One problem with the Giants’ plan to place injured tight end Jake Ballard on waivers and then put him on injured reserve and get him ready for 2013: It doesn’t work if another team claims him. And that’s exactly what happened today.
The Patriots, against whom Ballard was injured in the Super Bowl, have claimed Ballard. He is now a New England Patriot — even though, according to reporters on the scene, he’s actually in attendance at the Giants’ minicamp today.
Ballard, who had microfracture surgery in April, probably won’t play at all this season, and he becomes a free agent after this season, which means the Patriots would only get him in 2013 if they can sign him to a new deal. And they have to count him toward their 90-man roster limit right now. So at first blush, it would seem that the Patriots just grabbed a player who can’t play for them anyway.
Then again, Ballard’s base salary is only $540,000, so it’s not particularly expensive to keep him around and see if he recovers more quickly than expected. And the Patriots can put him on either the physically unable to perform list or injured reserve before the regular season starts, and having him on the roster now means they have first crack at getting him to sign a new contract for 2013 and beyond. Ballard becomes an exclusive rights free agent after the season, so if the Patriots want him, they can have him without any other team getting a chance to sign him.
So the Patriots just acquired a talented 24-year-old player and did so at a low price. A surprising deal, but not a bad deal.