PITTSBURGH (CBS) — According to several reports, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) are close to a new deal that would allow the league’s regular officials to return to work, possibly as early as this weekend.
The NFL declined to confirm that a deal was imminent.
Talks between the league and the NFLRA resumed Wednesday after a lengthy meeting Tuesday, according to one anonymous source. There’s no signed agreement, but a variety of sources tell Mike Freman of CBS Sports a deal is so close that locked out officials and the NFL could have something permanent in place by the end of the week.
There was a disconnect between the league and the union over the union’s pension plan; the NFL wanted officials to treat it like a 401K and contribute their own money.
According to NFLRA negotiator Scott Green, this is the last major obstacle that must be cleared. However, the sides are apparently much closer to coming to terms on that, and other previously disagreed-upon economic issues.
Freeman reported earlier on Wednesday that the league and the union agreed on a mentoring/training program that would create a larger pool of potential referees to replace struggling guys on the field.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.