Staying put: Pats-Broncos won't be played at night

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Staying put: Pats-Broncos won't be played at night

The NFL announced Wednesday that the Patriots-Broncos game on Dec. 18 will not be switched to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff and will instead remain at 4:15 p.m.

According to multiple reports, NBC -- which has the right to request schedule changes 12 days in advance over the latter stage of the season -- wanted to switch from its scheduled Ravens-Chargers game to the Pats-Broncos for its showcase Sunday night telecast. But CBS, which holds the rights to the game, resisted and, per NFL rules, CBS and FOX can deny one NBC request per week (up to a maximum of six per year) to switch one of their scheduled games to Sunday night.

It was also believed the Patriots themselves -- or at least those in the football operations end -- did not want the game switched, as the travel home from Denver in the overnight hours on Monday would basically wipe out a day of meetings during a short week. (The Pats play Miami on Saturday, Dec. 24.)

Tim Tebow vs. Tom BradyBill Belichick is suddenly a marquee matchup, given Denver's recent resurgence, which is why NBC wanted the game.
When flexible scheduling was implemented by the NFL and its broadcast partners in 2006, the agreement was that the announcement on any changes to the original schedule would be made "at least 12 days before the game."This is the pertinent paragraph from the original flex-scheduling announcement:

The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET. The wrangling carried it to 11 days before the game. The Denver Post reported Tuesday that Patriots' owner Robert Kraft was lobbying to keep the game at 4:15 p.m. and on CBS. That report led to speculation that Kraft was keeping CBS' interest foremost because a business relationship beyond the NFL exists (CBS Scene is a restaurant at Patriot Place). That led to counter-speculation that Kraft was interested in serving his team's best football interests so that they wouldn't fly out of Denver at 2 a.m. EST on Monday morning with a game five days later against the Dolphins on Christmas Eve. That scuttlebutt during the midday on Tuesday seemed to prompt an announcement by the NFL Tuesday night which read:

"Due to NFL Committee Meetings in New York today, the Week 15 flexible schedule announcement will be released tomorrow (Wednesday, December 7). All of the clubs under consideration to have Week 15 games flexed have informed our office that they are interested in the strongest schedule for our fans and network partners."

In any case, the deed is done and the Patriots-Broncos will be only highlights to some of the country.

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.

Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.

“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.

Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).

The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around. 

At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.

"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.

"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."

The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face. 

The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.

"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."