The NFL reached an agreement with the NFL Referees Association late Wednesday to end the referee lockout and are working on the paperwork now, according to a league source.
A high-ranked referee told NFL.com and NFL Network’s Jeff Darlington earlier that the officials are prepared to immediately begin work, noting he and many others have gotten access to all of the videos from the last three weeks of games that were distributed to the replacement officials.
While the referee said his colleagues would have liked to work a few preseason games, he says it isn’t necessary to do their job.
Earlier Wednesday, the league and referees agreed to create a developmental program as a compromise to the NFL’s demand for the addition of 21 officials to the current contingent of 121 NFLRA members, per an NFLRA source. The pool of money for the existing officials also will remain the same.
The developmental officials will be mentored by the existing crews and will be assigned to work with them during the week. The developmental officials will not be NFLRA members, will not work games and will not be eligible to be subbed in initially.
But eventually, as they improve and reach the standards to be NFL officials, they will be considered for NFLRA membership. As that happens, the financial pool for officials will be adjusted accordingly.