With Tom Brady retiring, a chapter of Big Ten football as displayed at the NFL level is officially closing.

Led by Brady’s record 7 Super Bowl wins, former Big Ten quarterbacks account for 9 of the past 20 Super Bowl championships.

Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, who preceded Brady into retirement by a year, is responsible for 1 of them. The lone active ex-Big Ten quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl is now Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, who did it with the Seahawks all the way back in 2013.

The question — especially given the current shaky state of the Seahawks — is which former Big Ten quarterback will be next to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

The conference does not get to claim Joe Burrow despite the fact he owns an Ohio State degree. He only threw 39 passes there, so it rings the same as calling Brett Favre a former Falcons quarterback.

Technically true. But it’s not what made him the player he became.

Of course, that street goes both directions. Georgia doesn’t get to claim Justin Fields. He’s a Buckeye.

Wilson is the rare exception with a valid to be claimed by 2 teams — he started at NC State for the bulk of his career, but became a star in his lone season as a grad transfer at Wisconsin. Which obviously works to the Big Ten’s advantage here.

With that established, let’s try to figure out who is in the best position to be the next Big Ten quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

The favorite

Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)

The case for…

As noted, Wilson is the only remaining active former Big Ten quarterback to already win a Super Bowl. And he is easily the best of the current bunch.

Even in an injury-plagued 2021, Wilson was still great. In 12 games, he completed 64.8% of his passes for 25 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. Considering that Aaron Rodgers just won his second-straight MVP at age 38, Wilson might not even be close to the end of the line at the tender age of 33.

The case against…

Have you seen the Seahawks lately?

Without Wilson keeping the team afloat, Seattle would have been downright dreadful. The Seahawks were 28th in the NFL in total defense and 31st in passing defense.

Seattle needs a total defensive overhaul, which will require some draft capital. The type of capital that comes with trading, say, Russell Wilson. If Wilson finds a spot as comfortable as the one Matt Stafford landed in last offseason, it seems only a matter of time before we see him in another Super Bowl.

But does that fit exist? The 49ers are the most obvious choice, but there’s no chance Seattle makes that trade with its most hated rival. Pittsburgh and Denver are in obvious need of a quarterback, but the AFC is an absolute bear with Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen to get through.

If Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay, as most are anticipating at this point, could a return to Wisconsin be in the cards? That would certainly be cool. Unless you’re a fan of another NFC North team.

But until Wilson changes ZIP codes, we can’t definitively say he’s the guy.

The veteran

Kirk Cousins (Michigan State)

The case for…

He made a Pro Bowl!

OK. On to a more serious note.

If Rodgers does leave Green Bay this offseason, Minnesota is playing with a “Win the NFC North Free” card next year. Getting there is half the battle.

Also of note: Cousins has thrown 68 touchdown passes the past 2 seasons.

With Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell on the way and wide receiver Justin Jefferson poised to get even better as his career progresses, the Vikings could be a very explosive offense next season.

With Brady out of the picture, the Rams could potentially be the only scary team to get through in the NFC.

The case against…

Interceptions are always a concern with Cousins.

He cut down on them this season, going from 13 a year ago to just 7. But he’s also done that before — he had a career-low 6 in 2019, then blew up last season.

He’s been inconsistent his entire career — great for stretches, then abysmal for others. It’s hard to trust a guy like that.

The rookie

Justin Fields (Ohio State)

The case for…

All the physical tools are there for Fields to have a ceiling near Wilson’s. We only saw it in flashes during his rookie season, but the possibilities are tantalizing if he can start putting together full games instead of impressing piece-by-piece.

The Bears hired Packers quarterback coach Luke Getsy as offensive coordinator, which is also encouraging for the sake of Field’s development.

The case against…

The Bears are a mess, and there’s no guarantee they won’t screw this up.

The hiring of Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as head coach offers no promise of an offensive renaissance. Though Eberflus appears to have made a good move in tabbing Getsy as his OC, Getsy didn’t exactly have to develop Aaron Rodgers.

Given the history of the position in Chicago, there are more reasons to think this will go south than to the top of the NFC North.

Still in school

CJ Stroud (Ohio State)

The case for…

Stroud is already the most promising quarterback prospect in the Big Ten after just one season.

He threw for 44 touchdowns, 4,435 yards and 6 interceptions as a redshirt freshman. With another season like that — or even better — he will have a chance to be the top quarterback taken in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The case against…

Stroud had, conservatively speaking, 3 of the top 20 wide receivers in college football at his disposal in 2021. And a strong argument can be made that Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxson Smith-Njigba all belong in the top 10.

That makes life as a quarterback a lot easier. With Olave and Wilson gone, we’ll learn a lot more about Stroud’s grasp of the position next year.

And then there’s the other problem with being a great quarterback. If Stroud plays well enough to be the top pick in next year’s draft, he could end up on a truly dismal team. From the looks of it, the Houston Texans seem a near-lock for the first pick. And that would be prohibitive to any Super Bowl aspirations.

Aidan O’Connell (Purdue)

The case for…

Fortune favors the Boilermakers.

Former Purdue quarterbacks have won 4 Super Bowls — Len Dawson (IV), Bob Griese (VII and VIII) and Drew Brees (XLIV).

O’Connell made an enormous leap in his junior season, and if he experiences anything close to that level of growth in 2022, he’s got a chance to be drafted pretty early.

And if O’Connell is a mid-round selection, he has a good chance of ending up with a decent organization. Even if he were to lead a team to a Super Bowl off the bench a la Nick Foles, it still counts.

The case against…

We don’t even know if O’Connell is an NFL-caliber quarterback yet. Which is a pretty strong case against.

It does seem like he’ll have a future in the league, but without growth next season, it’s most likely that would come as a backup or third-stringer. Which creates an amusing possibility — O’Connell could end up the next Big Ten quarterback to win a Super Bowl ring, but without actually getting on the field. Which, for our purposes, definitely does not count.