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NFL, referees reach tentative deal

NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL and the referees’ union have reached a tentative contract agreement, ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.

The NFL said it planned to have regular refs work tonight’s Cleveland-Baltimore game.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell at the table, the sides concluded two days of talks at midnight Thursday with the announcement of a tentative eight-year deal, which must be ratified by the union’s 121 members.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted “Pleased to report that an agreement has been reached with the NFL Referees Association. Details to follow.”

The replacements worked the first three weeks of games, triggering a wave of frustration that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season. After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, the two sides really got serious.

It was not certain who would work this week’s games, but ESPN reported regular refs will work tonight with Baltimore hosting Cleveland.
The union was seeking improved salaries, retirement benefits and other logistical issues for the part-time officials.

The NFL has proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, and it wants to hire 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating. The union has fought that, fearing it could lead to a loss of jobs for some of the current officials, as well as a reduction in overall compensation.

The NFL claimed its offers have included annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it means an overall reduction in compensation.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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