Ballard is coming off an ACL injury he suffered in the Super Bowl and may not even be ready for the season, with news from the New York Daily News that the Giants had planned to place him on the PUP list before he was claimed. He has also said that his best chance to return in 2012 would be midseason "if at all."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a history of grabbing players that have burned him in the past. Fans of the team probably don't need to be reminded of Ballard's amazing catch down the middle of the field or his touchdown catch that put the Giants on top in the regular-season meeting between the two teams.
In adding Ballard, the Patriots now carry six tight ends: Ballard, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Daniel Fells, Bo Scaife and Tyler Urban.
Hernandez and Gronkowski are the clear-cut front-runners for the top two spots, leaving the other four to battle it out for the third roster spot.
The Patriots are doing their due diligence to cover their bases and find the best fit.
They value versatility at the position, and Ballard brings a mix of blocking and pass-catching capabilities that could be valuable if the team faces an injury at the position (Hernandez has missed four games the past two seasons, two each year).
In fact, he was almost equal parts blocker and pass-catcher last season for the Giants, according to Pro Football Focus.
The signing could also be seen as the result of something similar that happened last year to the Patriots. After drafting Marshall tight end Lee Smith in the fifth round in the 2011 draft and adding undrafted free agent tight end Will Yeatman after the lockout, the Patriots appeared to be stockpiled at the position.
Then, waivers happened.
Both Smith and Yeatman were put on waivers as the team tried to sneak both players onto their practice squad, but the Bills and Dolphins had something to say about that. Buffalo claimed Smith, Miami claimed Yeatman and the Patriots were back to square one.
Now, they've moved onto square two.