Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Patriots Pick Up Jake Ballard For That Super Bowl Winning Experience They Lack
In what seems like a daily event, the New England Patriots signed another tight end. Unlike like most of the other ones that are either washed up (Bo Scaife) or never will bes (Jeremy Urban), this guy is a proven winner and a Super Bowl champion.
Former Giants tight end Jake Ballard, who was waived/failed a physical for New York on Monday, was claimed by the Patriots this afternoon. It's an intriguing move since Ballard is expected to miss most if not all of the 2012 NFL season after tearing his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI in Febuary vs. New England. The thinking is that the Patriots will stash Ballard on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list or injured reserve before the start of the regular season.
In a statement released by his agent, Ballard said on Tuesday: "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-Iived, 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."
I'm surprised that the G-Men would give up Ballard (who's only 24) so easily since he was their top tight end last season, in only his second year in the NFL out of Ohio State. He caught 38 passes from Eli Manning for 604 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. He averaged 15.9 yards per catch and his longest catch was 41 yards. He's an exclusive rights free agent after this season, meaning that New England would control his rights heading into 2013 presumably when he'll be much closer to 100% health-wise.
Rookie tight end Brad Herman went on IR after suffering an injury in OTAs last week.
If you're looking for a precedent of this kind of stealth move, the Pats did the same thing with safety Josh Barrett after they claimed him off waivers from the Broncos two summers ago. He was on injured reserve in 2010 but returned in 2011 to start in four games before missing the rest of the season with another injury. For his sake, I hope that Ballard has better luck than Barrett. Regardless, we all know that he's a much more valuable player. Barrett is a scrub while Ballard could be a real gem when he's back on the field for good.
If you need a refresher on what Ballard can do, we just need to look back at Week 9 last season when the Giants rallied for a 24-20 victory at Gillette Stadium. Ballard got it done with a goal-line touchdown grab with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In that game, he had four catches for 67 receiving yards including a 30-yard catch.
He was hurt all throughout the playoffs but he suited up for all three games (Atlanta, Green Bay and New England) before going down with the painful injury. Who could forget the scene on the sideline after he got hurt and he was trying to walk? That was rough to say the least. In the playoffs, he had five catches for 43 receiving yards.