Jake Ballard was expected to be an integral part of the Patriots’ offense this season. Instead, he wound up on the free-agent market following a disappointing preseason. He’s finally back on an NFL roster, though.
Ballard, 25, signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, according to the team’s official website. He has been out of work since the end of training camp, when the Patriots made him one of their final roster cuts on Sept. 1. He worked out for the Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs over the last two weeks.
The Patriots picked Ballard up off waivers ahead of last season. He never played in a game for the Patriots, though, as he didn’t fully heal from his ACL tear before the end of last season. He also looked hobbled during the preseason, never returning to the impressive form he showed during the 2011 season with the Giants.
Ballard, 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, played only one season with the Giants after going undrafted out of Ohio State in 2011. He caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games with the Giants during their Super Bowl-winning 2011 season.
The Cardinals haven’t gotten much production from the tight end position this season. Rob Housler, a third-year tight end from Florida Atlantic, has been their best option at tight end, catching 14 passes for 135 yards with no touchdowns. The Cardinals are likely hoping that Ballard will provide a more reliable and productive option for Carson Palmer over the middle.