Patriots sign Winslow, re-sign Branch, Koutouvides

PFW staff
Pro Football Weekly
No surprise when Patriots re-sign WR Branch

Updated 10:40 a.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 19

The Patriots announced Wednesday that they have signed veteran TE Kellen Winslow and re-signed WR Deion Branch and LB Niko Koutouvides. Terms of the contracts were not announced.

To make room for them on the roster, the team released RB Lex Hilliard, LB Mike Rivera and WR Greg Salas.

Winslow, 29, is a veteran of eight NFL seasons with the Browns (2004-08) and Buccaneers (2009-11). The 6-4, 240-pounder went to training camp with the Seahawks but was released on Sept. 1. Last season in Tampa Bay, Winslow caught 75 passes for 763 yards and two touchdowns. For his career, he has played in 92 games with 80 starts and has 437 receptions for 4,836 yards and 23 TDs.

Branch, 33, was surprisingly released by the team on Aug. 31. Last season, Branch started in 15 games that he played in and caught 51 passes for 702 yards with five touchdowns. The 5-9, 195-pound 11th-year veteran has played in 130 games with 107 starts and accumulated 502 receptions for 6,499 yards and 39 touchdowns for his career. 

Koutouvides, 31, also was released by the team on Aug. 31. He appeared in each of the final 11 games of the Patriots’ 2011 season, including each of their three playoff games. The 6-2, 228-pound ninth-year veteran was originally signed by the Patriots on Aug. 14, 2011, but was released when the team trimmed the roster to 53 prior to the start of the season. He returned to the team at midseason and made his first start of the season at outside linebacker against the Colts less than a month later. He finished the 2011 season with eight defensive stops and nine special-teams tackles. 

Hilliard appeared in the Patriots’ first two games. He had a two-yard carry in Sunday’s loss to Arizona and was on the field for four offensive snaps.

Rivera was a special-teams contributor. Salas, who was acquired in a trade with the Rams, was inactive for Sunday’s game.

The Patriots surprisingly cut Branch during final cutdowns. Last season, he was fourth on the team with 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns. The 33-year-old has spent six of his 11 NFL seasons with the Patriots.