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Sports in Brief: Ex-Steelers star linebacker Harrison signs with Patriots

In this Oct. 8, 2017 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison walks the sidelines as his team plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Pittsburgh. The New England Patriots signed Harrison, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, after he was released on Saturday by the Steelers. (Fred Vuich/AP, File)

In this Oct. 8, 2017 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison walks the sidelines as his team plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Pittsburgh. The New England Patriots signed Harrison, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, after he was released on Saturday by the Steelers. (Fred Vuich/AP, File)

FOXBORO, Ma. — James Harrison is no longer the odd man out or the oldest man in the locker room.

The ex-Steelers star signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, three days after his unceremonious departure from Pittsburgh.

The 39-year-old linebacker posted a photo on Instagram showing himself with 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady in New England’s locker room, writing that he finally has “a teammate that’s older than me!”

The AFC North champion Steelers released the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 2008 NFL defensive player of the year on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is returning from a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

“We make the decisions we feel give us the very best chance to win,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday when asked why the team didn’t release a different player to make room for Gilbert. “We needed the people we kept. We needed to activate Marcus Gilbert. Really, it’s nothing more than that.”

A day before, Tomlin had said following Pittsburgh’s 34-6 win over Houston that clinched a first-round playoff bye that difficult decisions such as this are “just life in football.”

To make room on their roster, the Patriots released linebacker Trevor Reilly.

Harrison, who is the Steelers’ career leader in sacks, piling up 80½ during his 14 seasons with the Steelers and 82½ during his career, briefly retired in September 2014 following a forgettable 2013 season in Cincinnati but returned when the Steelers ran into injury trouble.

He collected at least five sacks every season between 2014 and 2016 and signed a two-year deal last spring that would have kept him in Pittsburgh through his 40th birthday.

Sabathia’s $10M deal finalized by Yanks; payroll up to $178M

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia’s $10 million, one-year contract has been finalized by the Yankees, a deal that raises New York’s projected luxury tax payroll for next year to about $178 million.

The deal was announced Tuesday, about 10 days after the sides reached an agreement pending a physical. The 37-year-old left-hander is taking a pay cut from the $25 million he earned this year, when he went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts for his best season since 2012. He was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts following a Yankees loss.

Sabathia needs periodic injections in his surgically repaired right knee. The six-time All-Star is part of a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery.

Sabathia is 237-146 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,846 strikeouts in 17 big league seasons with Cleveland (2001-08), Milwaukee (2008) and the Yankees, who first signed him to a $161 million, seven-year deal before the 2009 season. When Sabathia had the right to opt out after the 2011 season, the Yankees agreed to a deal that paid him $25 million in 2016 and included a $25 million option for 2017 that became guaranteed because he did not finish 2016 with a left shoulder injury.

Left-hander Zach Duke, Twins finalize 1-year contract

MINNEAPOLIS — Left-hander Zach Duke and the Minnesota Twins have finalized a one-year contract.

The 34-year-old was 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 27 relief appearances this year for St. Louis, returning to the major leagues on July 21 after Tommy John surgery in October 2016. He struck out 12 and walked six in 18 1/3 innings over 27 games, and three of the 13 hits he allowed were home runs.

He is 61-85 with a 4.54 ERA in 169 starts and 299 relief appearances over 13 major league seasons with Pittsburgh (2005-10), Arizona (2011), Washington (2012-13), Cincinnati (2013), Milwaukee (2014), the Chicago White Sox (2015-16) and the Cardinals (2016-17).

Minnesota announced the agreement Tuesday.

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