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Blaine Gabbert to return as Bucs’ backup quarterback

After missing last season with a shoulder injury, the veteran is to be No. 2 behind Tom Brady.

TAMPA — The Bucs are finalizing a deal to retain Blaine Gabbert to be their No. 2 quarterback to back up Tom Brady.

They wanted a veteran to back up the six-time Super Bowl champion, and also one with knowledge of coach Bruce Arians’ offense.

Gabbert, who signed with the Bucs last year to back up Jameis Winston, played under Arians in his final year with the Cardinals, in 2017.

His deal with the Bucs was not completed Thursday — the sides were working through some language — but Gabbert, 30, was expected to agree to a one-year deal.

The Bucs could still get a quarterback in this month’s draft, but they clearly have faith that Gabbert is recovered from a dislocated left (nonthrowing) shoulder that he suffered in the preseason last year and that kept him out all season.

Gabbert was hurt in the third preseason game, was inactive for the first three regular-season games and placed on injured reserve Sept. 24.

Gabbert’s injury made Winston the Bucs’ only active quarterback with regular-season game experience through most of the season.

Ryan Griffin received his first NFL regular-season experience in his six seasons in the league in the second half of a Dec. 8 game against the Colts after Winston injured a thumb and then played briefly the following week in a win over the Lions. Griffin is still under contract.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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