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Ballad of Ballard: Coughlin crushed, Belichick delighted

The SportsXchange

Giants coach Tom Coughlin wasn't pleased with the loss of talented, young but injured tight end Jake Ballard on waivers.

The team attempted to slide Ballard, who had 38 receptions and averaged 15.9 yards per catch in 2011, his second pro season, through on waivers after failing a physical. The goal was to bring Ballard back and place him on injured reserve. By first clearing waivers and then being designated to IR, Ballard would not have counted against the Giants' 90-man training camp roster.

But the Patriots claimed Ballard, knowing that he won't likely play this season. Ballard suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl and the Giants didn't expect him to be on the field any time soon.

"Discouraged is a minor description," Coughlin said. "Very disappointed. I'm not going to have a lot to say about that one; just the fact that we are very disappointed. Very disappointed."

The Patriots said there were no so-called unwritten rules that apply to waiver claims, even for his good friend and former co-worker Coughlin.

"There aren't any unwrittens," Belichick said Wednesday. "I'm sure that you're aware that you can't negotiate a contract with a player while he's under contract. You can't negotiate a contract, release him, then renegotiate a contract with him that was already done in advance. I'm sure the Giants weren't doing that. If a player is on waivers, he's on waivers -- ours or anybody else's. I don't know what unwrittens you're talking about."

Ballard is under contract for two years with approximately $1.27 million remaining on his deal. The Patriots locked up tight end Rob Gronkowski with a long-term contract last week but Aaron Hernandez can become a free agent after the 2013 season.

That's when the Giants felt Ballard could return as an impact tight end because of his size and agility.

"I certainly thought so, for sure," Coughlin said of Ballard making a difference in 2013. "So did everybody. The whole building felt that way. Everyone did. It is obvious that it was a calculated risk and it didn't work."
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