There haven’t been much updates on New England Patriots likely third-string tight end Jake Ballard, who missed the 2012 season with an ACL tear that he sustained in the New York Giants Super Bowl win over the Patriots. New England unexpectedly scooped up Ballard from the Giants after he was waived, which angered some Giants fans.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss has given us our first true update on the talented TE’s recovery status, and it is certainly a good one. Reiss wrote in his Quick-hit column that Ballard’s knee surgery rehab process “is coming along nicely” and that Ballard did not suffer any setbacks. Both are terrific pieces of news, and the Patriots will have yet another weapon at the tight end position to work with in 2013. Now, let’s hope that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski can remain healthy as well.
The Patriots have an embarrassment of riches at the tight end position, but the depth is all useful with how versatile TEs are. With Ballard in the mix, I have a feeling we truly will see even more of Hernandez splitting out wide; I think that’s a good thing.
Reiss notes something even more important about Ballard, and that is the fact that he did not qualify for unrestricted free agency after the 2013 season due to too little games spent on the active roster. This means the Patriots will have Jake Ballard for two years instead of one, thus making the signing of Ballard an incredible value. Ballard made $540,000 last year and is set to make only a little more ($630,000) next year. I don’t have any cap information about Ballard in 2014 at this moment in time.
The 6’6″, 275 pound Ohio State alumn might not be able to play in OTAs this year, but he will certainly be ready to go in training camp and is pretty much a lock for a spot on the 53-man roster. Ballard had 604 receiving yards on 38 catches for four touchdowns with the Giants in 2011, so the 25-year-old certainly has plenty of potential to show to the Patriots.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.