When it was found that Rob Gronkowski would miss time recovering from arm and back surgeries one player looked at to fill the void was Jake Ballard. The three-year veteran came to the Patriots after a successful 2011 campaign with the New York Giants in which he had 38 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns, but ended with a torn ACL in the Giants’ Super Bowl win against the Patriots.
New England claimed Ballard off waivers from New York that offseason and he spent 2012 on the IR, but was expected to be ready to go for 2013. Ballard never panned out for the Patriots, and saw only limited playing time in the preseason, where it looked like his knee still had not fully healed. He was cut at the end of training camp and became a free agent.