Jake Ballard is now an ex-New York Giant. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said today that trying to pass injured tight end Jake Ballard through waivers, a move that didn't work when the Giants 2011 starter was claimed by the New England Patriots, was a "calculated risk."
[Related: Tom Coughlin Wednesday Transcript]
Reporters present at Wednesday's mini-camp clearly gave the impression that Coughlin was not happy about losing Ballard, who caught 38 passes in 14 regular-season games in 2011.
Just how upset should Coughlin, and the Giants, be about losing Ballard?
Without doubt this is not the outcome the Giants wanted, or expected. They were apparently hoping to pass Ballard through waivers, bring him back and place him on IR. The Patriots, though, ruined the plan.
Reality is that if they wanted to keep Ballard this is a gamble the Giants probably should not have taken. Just like last season when GM Jerry Reese strung Steve Smith along, thinking no one would sign a player who would likely not contribute early in the season.
This is a little bit of a case of 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me' for Reese. He gambled, again -- and he lost, again.
How much does it hurt the Giants? It doesn't hurt them at all in 2012. It is pretty obvious that the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Ballard was not going to play at all this coming season.
How about long-term? Well, nobody knows. First of all, Ballard has major damage to his knee and no one knows what kind of player he will be when he tries to return in 2013. Second of all, no one knows how the players the Giants will use in his stead will pan out. Will Martellus Bennett be the player the Giants think his physical tools say he should be, or will he be the under-achiever the Dallas Cowboys seemed to think he was? Will fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson, 'the JPP of tight ends,' blossom into the star the Giants seem to think they might have uncovered?
If Bennett and/or Robinson blossom into stars -- somewhat like Victor Cruz did in replacing Smith -- this is just another unfortunate footnote. If Ballard comes back as the same player he was in 2011 and both Bennett and Robinson flame out then this will be a decision the Giants will wish they could do over.
Only time will tell.
Was this just a little gamesmanship from New England after two straight Super Bowl losses to the Giants? Could be. They do have Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. What they could possibly do with Ballard only they know.
All we can do is wait and see how it all plays out. Losing Ballard is tough for the Giants to swallow, but as last season showed it could end up working out just fine.