The G-Men were looking for Ballard, who tore an ACL against New England in the Super Bowl, to clear waivers so they could put him on their injured reserve list.
But Ballard, a poor man's Rob Gronkowski (similar in size and skill set), proved too tempting a target for the Patriots to pass on. You may recall they put in a similar claim for safety Josh Barrett, then with the Denver Broncos, a couple of years back. He was a non-factor his first year in Foxborough, as he had to spend the year on IR, but wound up becoming a starter early last year before going back on the disabled list. Ballard could be headed for a similar fate in 2012, though, with a one-year contract, the Patriots would have to re-sign him to a longer deal if they wanted to keep him beyond this season.
The Patriots certainly are thin at tight end at the moment, and this transaction is well within the rules, but it may be looked upon by some as "dirty pool." The Minnesota Vikings did something similar several years ago when the Patriots waived tight end Garrett Mills, thought to be headed for the Patriots practice squad, before the Vikes claimed him. That led to some ill will between the two clubs (New England later claimed Vikings linebacker David Herron off waivers, seemingly as retribution). So, it will be interesting to see how Tom Coughlin's Giants react to this savvy move by Bill Belichick.
Around 6:30 Tuesday evening, the Patriots made the Ballard pick-up official. They also announced that rookie TE Brad Herman had cleared waivers and was placed on injured reserve. He reportedly ruptured an Achilles tendon in last week's OTA and underwent surgery.