UPDATE 6/12 8:35 p.m.: A few words From Jake Ballard, the newest New England Patriot:
While this was very sudden and I am still experiencing a great deal of differing emotions, I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You and place some closure on a wonderful chapter in my life. I will greatly miss my teammates, the fans, the organization, and albeit short-lived, I will forever cherish all the great memories that we created during my time in a Giant uniform. Simultaneously, I am humbled by the opportunity that the Patriots have afforded me and as I have always done, I will bring nothing but hard work, professionalism, and integrity to what is already a world class organization.
Sincerely, Jake Ballard.
6/12 6:06 p.m.: Today, the Patriots have made a somewhat surprising move that reflects an eye on 2013. According to his agent, the Patriots have claimed tight end Jake Ballard off waivers from the New York Giants.
If you remember, Ballard initially tore his ACL against the Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI. Two months later, Ballard underwent microfracture surgery on the same knee, meaning he was likely out for the entirety of the 2012 season. That being said, the Giants opted to place Ballard on the waived/injured list, presumably with the idea to place him on injured reserve should he go unclaimed. As it turned out, a team did claim him: the New England Patriots.
So what do we make of this move?
For one, this move was made with an eye on 2013. In all likelihood, at the end of the preseason, Patriots coach Bill Belichick will opt to place Ballard on injured reserve (without passing through waivers). This situation could be compared to that of Josh Barrett, whom the Patriots claimed off the waived/injured list from the Broncos in 2010.
And while Ballard will have to count against the 90-man roster limit for the rest of the offseason, I don't think that's too big a price to pay for a really quality tight end. At 6'6" and 275 lbs, Ballard was known as a blocking tight end when he was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2010. However, last season, Ballard broke out as a receiver, snaring 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. He also had four catches for 67 yards and the game winning touchdown against the Patriots in week nine of the regular season.
Ballard is a young, quality tight end that could definitely compete with Daniel Fells to be the team's 3rd tight end in 2012. While his health is an uncertainty at the time, he comes at a very low cost ($540,000 base salary) and with a high upside. If the Giants really intended to keep Ballard long term, it was a poor personnel decision on their part to dangle Ballard on waivers.