FoxSports,com is reporting that the NFL has asked its officiating scouting department to start identifying replacement officials to be used this upcoming season. The previous agreement expired at the end of the 2011 season and apparently the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have not been able to come to terms on a new agreement.
“Negotiations are ongoing, and should the two sides reach an agreement in the near future, there will be no need to hire additional officials. This is a contingency plan to make sure the NFL season will continue on schedule as planned.” NFL director of recruiting officials Ron Baynes explained.
Baynes goes on to say that they will target officials who have recently retired from college officiating, as well take a look at semi-professional leagues and lower division college officials who have the still have the ability to work at a high level, but are often overlooked.
Under the expiring deal, it is believed NFL officials made between $70,000 and $140,000 working about 20 games and most referees also hold full time jobs as well.
With the recent focus on player safety and concussions, the job of a referee has become as important as ever. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told FoxSports that the negotiations are ongoing and that they are "optimistic that there will be a successful resolution”.