The New England Patriots-Denver Broncos rivalry officially began March 20, 2012, when quarterback Peyton Manning picked his future franchise.
The competition heated up over the last year, as the Patriots came back to beat the Broncos in overtime in Week 12, and Denver toppled New England in the AFC Championship Game. Those two games sparked what appears to be a battle in free agency, as well, although Patriots head coach Bill Belichick won’t admit to an arms race with the Broncos.
“Just trying to improve,” Belichick told the media Tuesday during the AFC coaches’ breakfast at the NFL Annual Meeting.
The Broncos have added cornerback Aqib Talib, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders since free agency began. They have lost receiver Eric Decker, guard Zane Beadles, linebacker Wesley Woodyard and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Patriots have signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brandon LaFell. New England lost Talib and starting linebacker Brandon Spikes, but it brought back wide receiver Julian Edelman.
With the way the Patriots and Broncos are adding pieces, the other 14 teams in the AFC might not matter in 2014, arms race or not.
Here are some other notes from Belichick’s 45-minute sitdown with the media in Orlando, Fla.:
— Belichick said reporters should ask Vince Wilfork about the defensive tackle reportedly asking the Patriots for his release. Belichick also said reporters should try to verify those comments.
— There was a lot of talk about the four rule proposals the Patriots made, which will be discussed this week.
Belichick said the height of the goal posts is outdated, since even college kickers who won’t make the NFL can kick the ball over them.
On kicking extra points from the 25-yard line and another team’s proposal to kick off from the 40, Belichick said the NFL should try to eliminate non-plays. Extra points from the 2-yard line are too easy, and kicks from the 40 would result in too many touchbacks.
— Belichick also talked extensively about challenges on penalties. He specifically mentioned challenging holding penalties and plays in which the offense is not set before the ball is snapped.
— The Patriots’ head coach also joked that the NFL could hold a “bake sale” or “car wash” to raise money to buy more cameras for challenges.
— Belichick wouldn’t clarify Greg Schiano’s potential role with the Patriots. He just said he has a lot of friends in the business. Schiano was spotted with the Patriots at the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
— Belichick said he missed the NFL coaches’ photo. “Maybe they can Photoshop me in there.”
— He got a little testy at one point, asking a reporter, “Are you seriously asking that question?” when broached about tight end Rob Gronkowski’s recovery time from a torn ACL.