FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Junior Seau's brief retirement ended Friday when the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker agreed to a contract with the New England Patriots.
The team didn't disclose terms of the deal with Seau, whose signing followed four days of on-again, off-again signals about whether the 37-year-old would return to the NFL.
The Patriots needed another linebacker because Tedy Bruschi has a broken hand and Willie McGinest, a mainstay of their three Super Bowl titles, signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent. Chad Brown and Monte Beisel also are hurt.
Seau announced his retirement Monday, after the Miami Dolphins cut him following three unremarkable seasons.
"It's pretty easy. When a team doesn't want you or need you, retire, buddy," he told a crowd of family, friends, players and team executives Monday at the headquarters of the San Diego Chargers, his longtime team.
But even as he announced his retirement, Seau said he was healthy and still able to play. Asked if his decision was irreversible, Seau said: "I can't answer that. I really can't."
On Thursday, Chargers officials confirmed Seau left a message for team president Dean Spanos alerting him he might sign with New England.
Seau grew up in suburban San Diego and starred at Southern California before the Chargers took him fifth overall in the 1990 draft. He led San Diego to the 1995 Super Bowl -- its only appearance in the NFL title game -- and was selected to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, from 1992 to 2003.
The 6-foot-3, 248-pound linebacker has played in 230 games -- the most of any active NFL linebacker -- with 227 starts and 1,724 career tackles.
The Chargers traded Seau to the Miami Dolphins in 2003 for a fifth-round draft choice. In his first year with Miami, he started all 15 games in which he played and finished second on the team with 133 tackles. In his last two seasons with Miami, Seau started 13 of 15 games while recording a total of 101 tackles.
On Friday, the Patriots also announced the signing of Chris Luzar, a veteran tight end, and the release of tight end Walter Rasby, an 11-year NFL veteran.
Luzar, 27, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-foot-7-inch, 262-pound tight end out of Virginia played in 23 games in two seasons with the Jaguars and caught four passes for 35 yards. He was released by Jacksonville in November 2004 and signed two months later by the New York Giants.
Rasby, 33, signed with the Patriots on July 28. In his 11-year career, Rasby started 69 of 144 games with five different teams and caught 64 career receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns.