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Should New York Giants Consider Reunion with Jake Ballard Following New England Patriots Release?

September 3rd, 2013 at 8:30 AM
By Doug Rush

'Jake Ballard (85), Clay Matthews (52)' photo (c) 2012, Mike Morbeck - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Two years ago, Jake Ballard had a promising career with the New York Giants as the team's starting tight end, but his NFL career has taken a drastic turn since his breakout season in 2011.

Ballard broke onto the scene with a solid year for the Giants two years ago, hauling in 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games and looked to have a future in the team's offense, but he tore his ACL during Super Bowl XLVI, which required surgery to repair it and lead to the Giants placing him on waivers during the offseason with the intention of putting him on injured reserve, but that plan backfired when the New England Patriots claimed him off waivers in June of 2012.

Ballard was on the Patriots during the 2012 season, but didn't play a single snap for the team, as he was recovering from surgery, but had hopes of playing this season, especially with Rob Gronkowski's injury troubles and Aaron Hernandez being released after getting charged with murder. Ballard had his shot to impress the Patriots this summer to get on the team, but instead, was released this weekend in the team's roster cuts to get down to 53 players.

The tight end went unclaimed off waivers and is now a free agent and may sign with whomever he likes, which brings the Giants back into the picture. The Giants, allegedly, never wanted to let Ballard go to begin with and always were agitated that the Patriots made the move to take Ballard from them. If Ballard's knee can get stronger and if he can pass a physical, a reunion with the team makes sense due to a few lingering concerns.

The first is Adrien Robinson and the foot injury he suffered in the final preseason game against the Patriots this past Thursday. If Robinson's injury is one that lingers on into the season and if it doesn't allow him to get onto the field for the Giants, then the Giants need to find a suitable replacement, which is where Ballard makes sense.

The other is Bear Pascoe. And while he isn't injured, Henry Hynoski was injured for most of the summer recovering from surgery on his knee to repair his MCL. If Hynoski suffers any setbacks during the season by re-injuring the same knee, the next move the Giants will make in the offense it putting Pascoe in for Hynoski, which would open up a spot at tight end, which again, Ballard would fit in.

Larry Donnell also made the team too and is listed as the team's fourth tight end, but he is unproven with the exception of playing in a handful of games during the summer and the Giants likely will be using him more in special teams situations. The starting tight end in the offense will be Brandon Myers and while Ballard isn't going to be cutting into his playing time, Ballard, if healthy, could give the Giants a two-tight end look in the offense that might be hard for defenses to stop; similar to what the Patriots had with Gronkowski and Hernandez for a couple of seasons.

Bringing back Ballard isn't a move that the Giants will make for Week 1 and maybe not even for Week 2. but if for some reason any of the possible scenarios pop up and the Giants are scrambling for a player to sign, Ballard's might be a name that Jerry Reese might want to consider.

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Tags: Adrien Robinson, Bear Pascoe, Brandon Myers, Football, Henry Hynoski, Jake Ballard, Larry Donnell, New York, New York Giants, NFL

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41 Responses to “Should New York Giants Consider Reunion with Jake Ballard Following New England Patriots Release?”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    I love what Jake did for us, and we owe him at least a conversation for his trying to play in the Super Bowl when he clearly should not have done so, but the only way he should be of any interest is if we have a spate of injuries and need a body.

  2.  6string says:

    I watched the NY/NE game on a local Boston station and one of the announcers (former QB) insisted Ballard would be the week one starter for the Pats. I can’t see why if healthy he wouldn’t be an upgrade over Pascoe.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Because Pascoe can play fullback and Ballard cannot.

      The Giants MUST have a backup fullback since that position is integral to the offense we run.

      •  JimStoll says:

        Ballard was never overly athletic; he did what he did with heart and grit.
        undoubtedly a great teammate and locker room guy.
        but that injury was severe and whatever athleticism he had is undoubtedly less
        we already have a roster chock full of scrub TE’s (not too far removed from our scrub LBs); we can’t afford to add another, especially one playing on a reconstructed knee

        •  fanfor55years says:

          Myers is no “scrub”. It’s reasonable to be concerned about his ability to block, but as a receiving tight end he is among the league’s best.

          Robinson is the one that is worth worrying about. Despite Reese’s praise when he was drafted, he has so far been disappointing, and now he’s hurt.

          Pascoe is what he is: a journeyman who is valuable because he can play fullback too and HAS made critical plays in big games so has earned the coaches’ confidence.

          Donnell is a big guy who can block and is at least starting to look like he can be a receiver too.

          A lot depends upon Robinson. If Reese was right about him he should be able to contribute this season and really blossom by Week 7-8. If Reese was wrong then we will need Myers to really step up, which he certainly could do, and need Donnell to make real progress. But if Robinson “emerges” then we’ll have a strong rotation at TE and can really make use of that in a lot of different circumstances.

          We’ve recently seen that even the best of GMs (and Reese is tremendous) make mistakes (Austin, Barden and perhaps Jernigan have to go down as mistakes because two were drafted high and one cost us a draft pick to move up and get). Let’s hope Robinson wasn’t a mistake because we really need him to make the leap this season.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          Completely agree

  3.  demo3356 says:

    No to Ballard. We already have 4 Average, one dimensional or unproven TE’s why add a 5th ? Love Ballard but he barely had the athleticism to be an NFL player before the major knee injury. If the Pats whose top 2 TE’s are coming off back surgery and incarcerated didnt think he was worth keeping I cant see anyone signing him

  4.  demo3356 says:

    Goat and FF55yrs- As far as Barden goes, I’m pretty sure the giants had to put him on IR because he was injured in camp. Not sure exactly how the rules work but I’m pretty sure they IR’d him with the intention of releasing him with a medical settlement

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Why not just waive him injured? Then I believed he could be re-signed later. I know with IR even if a player is released with an injury settlement that player cannot play for the team that IR’d him. I’m just wondering why not have him as an option to re-sign later if needed?

      •  fanfor55years says:

        I suspect you just answered your own question. The Giants know they don’t want him back. They want to release him and get an injury settlement done (which probably helps regarding cap expenditures, but I’m not sure about that).

      •  demo3356 says:

        I dont think they see him as fitting in there plans. They have Nicks, Murphy and Randle as guys with good size on the outside. They bought him in when Cruz was holding out and Nicks was hurt. He will be bounced with a medical settlement shortly

        •  GOAT56 says:

          I’m just speaking as an emergency option. But I guess you guys are right he’s not seen as that. I’m concerned not because I believe Barden is great but because we have only 5 WRs and I don’t think the PS WRs could help this year if needed. So then you would have to resort to the street and with our system we can’t just sign any WR.

          We need to stay healthy at WR.

  5.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    Speaking of Barden here’s what I don’t get about outing him on IR. IR means that he can’t play for us this year. His injury seamed minor so to me I makes more sense to cut him and then he would be available if needed during the season. If injuries strike at WR he seemed like the logical choice to sign off the street. Now we are paying him, he can’t help us this year & I doubt he’s in the WR mix next year. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    Our PS WRs are guys that maybe can develop but I don’t think they could help us if needed. We will have to resort to the Hagan’s & Thomas’s of the world because it’s hard for a guy of the street to help at WR if he hasn’t been in our system before.

  6.  demo3356 says:

    Goat- could also have something to do with his vet status in the NFL. If its a scrub no name filling out a 90 man in camp,they just waive him injured but if its a guy with X amount of years if service they my have to put them on IR and then work out a settlement. Not sure of the particulars, but there has to be a very good explanation. There is no benefit to IRing him for the giants. He’s on a one year deal and a FA next year.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Oh yeah I think that’s right. True all the guys waived injured are young guys, even Sash. Thanks.

      •  demo3356 says:

        Yup, I was thinking about Sash too and I believe we can resign him down the line if need be because he didnt go to IR

        •  GOAT56 says:

          That’s what threw me off. I was wondering why we didn’t treat Barden like Sash but the vet status is the difference. Got it now.

  7.  demo3356 says:

    We are pretty much set at TE. We have the pass catcher in Myers, the Jack of all trades vet in Pascoe and two guys filled with potential in Donnel and Robinson. No if there is a solid option at S, LB or RB I’m interested

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      +1.

      I actually think Pascoe might be cut when Rhino gets back.

      •  demo3356 says:

        I hope so. He may go after week one for a vet RB

      •  fanfor55years says:

        Not if no one else has proved he can play fullback if Hynoski goes down.

        That’s every bit as much his “insurance policy” as long-snapping is DeOssie’s.

        •  demo3356 says:

          I think Donnel can do both. Not sure but I think I’ve seen him line up there a few times this preseason

          •  BigBlueGiant says:

            I also think Donnell can do both. He was one of the guys that i was rather impressed with over preseason.

            I think he can def be what Reese wanted Robinson to be this year.

  8.  BigBlueGiant says:

    FF55- i’m not really sure how confident the coaches are in Robinson. Donnell is more ready from what i’ve seen.

    Also, haven’t really commented bout the roster but Demo’s 53 >>>>> Giants 53.

    Scratching my head over the Tracy cut although i was one of the haters of the kid. I actually thought he looked decent. And don’t get me started on why the y cut our best LB in Bosworth ( JK Demo)….

    And then there’s JJ…. good for him. Another year being inactive on game day and getting splinter’s in his A$$.

    •  demo3356 says:

      Thank you kind sir, I liked mine better too. Not sure about Painter over Carr but other than that I can deal with it.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        In the end that’s with all of our debating the only player that bothers me is Painter. But I’m not convinced Carr can still play either. I would have felt better with Carr but maybe it’s no better.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      From what I have seen this preseason Robinson does seem more ready as far as blocking and assignments. But surprisingly Donnell looks like the most talented TE on our roster. He gets open, he just has to consistently catch the ball. Just how good Donnell looked was one of the surprises of camp.

      At DE is wasn’t a matter that Tracy couldn’t play he was just beaten out. Trattou everything considered did probably play the best. Tracy has no more PS eligibility so that’s why couldn’t keep him in some way. I think he’s a really good fit as a 3-4 OLB.

      To me WR was the opposite of DE. While JJ didn’t do anything to earn a roster spot no one else did anything to knock him off the roster. I think if Douglass or Steinback were in our WR group this year and performed the way they did last year JJ wouldn’t have made it. I still think JJ can contribute but he didn’t do anything this preseason.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      The Tracy cut was a bit of a shock. Especially because they didn’t keep Bosworth. I figured that Tracy might be used on occasion as a strong-side linebacker if we didn’t have anyone else the coaches trusted. It looks now like we’ll see Rivers playing there. But what if he’s hurt?

      I have no problem with their deciding Trattou deserved the roster spot over Tracy and Ojomo, but am surprised they kept Broha (on the practice squad) while releasing Tracy.

      After thinking about it I assume that either they are planning on having one of the defensive ends (Kiwi, Moore, Tuck and Trattou) playing outside but in a two-point stance on a more frequent basis so he can drop back into coverage sometimes and other times use loops to find vulnerabilities in the pass protection), or playing an awful lot of nickel and dime sets so the strong-side linebacker becomes less necessary as Williams and Rivers space themselves appropriately as the only two linebackers. It’s that, or they plan on targeting a veteran SAM after this Sunday so they can avoid a guaranteed contract.

  9.  Kevin Page says:

    My educated hypothesis is Jerry Reese reads this page and is doing it solely to tweak FF55. I am quite surprised that he didnt lobby the powers that be, to allow Barden wear #55 out of pure spite.

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