Leave it to Bill Belichick to spoil a perfectly good Super Bowl honeymoon for the New York Giants with another sneaky pickup.
New York’s plan was to re-sign Ballard and place him on injured reserve while he continued to rehab after ACL and micro-fracture surgery. Understandably, the move didn’t sit well with Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.
“Discouraged is a minor description,” Coughlin said Wednesday. “Very disappointed.”
The Giants rolled the dice with the hope that no team would claim the injured tight end who will likely miss all of the 2012 season. But Belichick’s Patriots are nothing if not shrewd and cheeky.
“There are no unwrittens,” Belichick said after New England’s Wednesday minicamp session in Foxborough, Mass. “You can’t negotiate a contract with a player while he’s under contract. You can’t negotiate a contract, release him then renegotiate another contract with him that was already done in advance. I’m sure the Giants weren’t doing that. (When) a player is on waivers, he’s on waivers — ours or anybody else’s.”
Ballard, 24, started 13 games last season and caught 38 passes to lead New York tight ends with 604 yards and four touchdowns. He tore his ACL in the Super Bowl victory over New England. The Giants still have five tight ends on the roster with Bear Pascoe, Martellus Bennett, fourth-round draft pick Adrien Robinson, rookie Christian Hopkins and Travis Beckum, who is also recovering from ACL surgery.
But for a team that already lost big-play wide receiver Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs to San Francisco, losing another offensive weapon to a Super Bowl contender is difficult to shrug off. And just as they did by adding longtime Colts running back Joseph Addai, the Patriots once again picked up a player from a postseason foe.