A few of you have asked why the Patriots would even want Ballard, seeing that they already have two excellent tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Well, the Patriots play two tight ends on nearly every offensive snap; last year, Gronkowski and Hernandez each played more than 1,000 offensive plays. You can’t count on them to stay healthy, and New England needs a solid third tight end (and maybe a fourth) to play all the schemes in its playbook. And if New England signs Ballard for the third-year tender price of $640,000, that means it will have paid $1.17 million, total, for 2012 and 2013 to employ a good tight end in the hope he can help next season. Maybe he can’t. But the gamble seems worth it for a guy who made so many big catches for the Giants in the last two months of the season last year.