FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots have signed tight end Kellen Winslow and re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch.

The announcement Wednesday came three days after tight end Aaron Hernandez was sidelined with a right ankle injury. The Patriots have not said how many games they expect him to miss.

Winslow was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 1 after spending the past three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following five seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He had 75 receptions last season and has 437 in his career.

The Patriots released Branch on the final roster cutdown after he caught 51 passes last season.

New England also re-signed linebacker Niko Koutouvides and released running back Lex Hilliard, linebacker Mike Rivera and wide receiver Greg Salas.

Mystery surrounds

WR Wes Welker

Wes Welker caught more passes over the past five seasons than any other NFL player. So why is he spending more time on the New England Patriots sideline this year?

Newcomer Brandon Lloyd has taken over the top wide receiver spot, three-year backup Julian Edelman has improved, and Welker, who was involved in an offseason contract dispute, could leave as a free agent after this year. Or maybe he’s hurting and the Patriots want him to be fresher for the second half of the season.

Welker said he feels “great.” And two games into the season is not enough to conclude his value has dropped.

He and his teammates downplay his decreased usage, while coach Bill Belichick questions whether it’s even been diminished.

In two games, Welker has been on the field for 70.5 percent of the offensive snaps, although that almost certainly would have been lower if tight end Aaron Hernandez hadn’t suffered a right ankle injury on the third play that knocked him out of last Sunday’s 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

In the previous four seasons, Welker participated in 75 percent of the snaps with the Patriots in 2008 (75.2 percent in the first two games), 72.8 percent in 2009 (73.7 percent), 76 percent in 2010 (61.3 percent) and 88.9 percent in 2011 (84.2 percent), according to