Blake Baratz, Ballard’s agent, announced the news via Twitter:
As I stated yesterday a "smart" football organization might claim @NYG_J_Ballard85 while he's hurt to own his rights. He's now a Patriot!— Blake Baratz (@the_ifa) June 12, 2012
Ballard went undrafted in 2010, and the New York Giants signed him soon after. He was productive in his second season and caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns.
At 6'6" and 275 pounds, Ballard has great size for the positionm and he is remarkably athletic for such a large athlete, which makes him a threat in the passing game.
As Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk notes, Ballard had microfracture surgery in the offseason and is unlikely to play at all this year. The Giants decided to waive him, likely believing that no one would claim him and they would be able to retain his services after he recovered from his injury.
This plan backfired, though, when New England decided to bring Ballard on board.
Should the Patriots have signed Jake Ballard?
But the Patriots' decision does not make much sense.
The Patriots already have two of the most talented tight ends in the league. Rob Gronkowski caught balls for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns last year—both of which are NFL records for a tight end, and he is just 23 years old.
Aaron Hernandez, meanwhile, finished with 910 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches. And he is just 22 years old.
Ballard is only 24, and there is no question he is talented. He will come very cheap as well, at just $540,000, according to David Smith.
However, he also takes up a roster spot and will almost certainly not play at all this year. Additionally, he will need to be re-signed after this season.
All the Pats did with this move was waste a roster spot to get the inside track on signing a third-string tight end.