No need to worry about the NFL using replacement referees any time soon.
The league and the NFL Referees Association on Saturday reached agreement on a seven-year collective bargaining agreement that goes through the 2025 season. The current deal had been set to expire in May 2020.
The agreement was unanimously approved by the NFLRA’s board of directors and was announced by the union.
“This agreement solidifies the working partnership between the league and officials toward the common goal of developing and training the best officials in the world,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a statement. “We will continue working together to provide fans, players and coaches with officiating performance that meets the highest standards demanded by the game.”
“It was a mutual and cooperative effort that took over a year and a half, and the outcome is seven years of certainty for the league and our officials,” NFLRA executive director Scott Green said. “We appreciate Troy Vincent and his staff for recognizing that working together to find solutions is the best course of action to reach a long-term agreement.”
The league and union went through a contentious labor dispute in 2012, when the NFL locked out the officials. The league used replacement officials through the first three games of the season, with several calls creating controversy. One particular call on the final play of the Week 3 Monday night game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers involved a Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate in the end zone.
The Seahawks were awarded a touchdown after he and Packers safety M.D. Jennings caught the pass simultaneously, but replays showed that Tate shoved a defender with both hands and should have been flagged for pass interference. A photograph of the catch showed one official signaling touchdown and another an incomplete pass.
The outcry from that and other calls hastened negotiations, and the regular officials returned to work for Week 4 after agreeing on a new labor deal.
The league continues to negotiate with the NFL Players Association about an extension of the current contract. The deal with the players is set to expire after the 2020 season, but there appears to be momentum to forge a new CBA before the end of this season. The two sides have discussed the possibility of adding one playoff team in each conference, as well as adopting a 17-game regular season and dropping at least one preseason game.