FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots signed veteran offensive lineman John Welbourn today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots released rookie defensive lineman Chris Norwell.
Welbourn, 32, is a veteran of nine NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2003) and Kansas City Chiefs (2004-07). The 6-foot-5-inch, 310-pound offensive lineman has played in 103 career games with 95 starts. Last season, he started every game at right guard for the Chiefs. Welbourn was originally drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round (97th overall) out of the University of California-Berkeley. Over five seasons with Philadelphia, Welbourn started all 56 regular season games in which he played and also started nine postseason contests. After starting one game at right tackle as a rookie in 1999, Welbourn started all 16 games of the 2000 season at left guard for Philadelphia. He started 15 contests at left guard in 2001, and opened 11 games at that position in 2002. In his final season with the Eagles in 2003, Welbourn started 13 times at left guard. He was acquired by the Chiefs on April 25, 2004 in exchange for a 2004 fifth-round draft choice and a 2005 third-round draft choice. He started 10 games at right tackle in his first season in Kansas City in 2004. In 2005, he played in 12 games with nine starts at right tackle. He played in nine games with four starts at right tackle in 2006, before starting every game at right guard in 2007.
Norwell, 23, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 2, 2008. The 6-foot-6-inch, 303-pound defensive lineman played four seasons for the University of Illinois from 2004-07. As a senior in 2007, his three fumble recoveries led the Big Ten Conference.