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NFL confirms referee deal

7:23 AM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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(NBS Sports) -- The NFL and the NFLRA are in simultaneous possession of a new labor deal.

The league and the officials' union have announced that a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached, and that the regular officials will return for Thursday night's game between the Browns and the Ravens.

It's an eight-year deal that still must be ratified by the 121 members of the NFLRA. As NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos told PFT Wednesday night, the vote will be taken on Friday in Dallas.

It's an eight-year deal, which means that the NFL won't have to deal with this issue again until 2020.

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"The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.

"We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs."

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As Daopoulos learned, the current pension system remains in place through 2016. Then, the system switches to a defined contribution plan, with the league contributing on average more than $18,000 per official per year. That number increases to more than $23,000 on average in 2019.

The average pay will increase to $173,000 in 2013. By 2019, the average pay per official will by $205,000.

As of 2013, the league will have the option of hiring some officials on a full-time basis. The league currently has the option to hire additional officials for training and development purposes. The league also has to power to "assign those additional officials to work NFL games," which implies that the NFL eventually secured the "bench" that it so badly wanted.

Based on what we've heard from Daopoulos and the language of the league's release, it appears that the NFL agreed to assume the financial burden of the pool of extra officials - and that if the extra officials are used during games, any regular officials who are displaced will still be paid.

While the league's statement says plenty, questions remain regarding certain details. We'll have more on this one as Thursday unfolds.

(NBC Sports)

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