With little more than two weeks remaining prior to the start of the NFL's regular season, Ray Anderson, head of the league's officiating department, stated in an interview with Newsday that the league is planning to start the year with replacement officials.
The NFL is currently in negotiation with the NFL Referees Association and the two sides are having a difficult time coming to terms on common ground.
The source of the contention is based in a seven-year contract offer from the NFL that also proposed an increase of 21 officials to the current pool. With the referees seeking a 20% raise in salary, the union is arguing that an addition of staff would ultimately only lower their pay. In addition, the officials want to keep the structure of their current pension plan, while the NFL is interested in altering it.
This has left Anderson looking towards a future without his regular officials.
"I would anticipate that it would go into the regular season, unless the parties get back to the table in a hurry,'' Anderson said. "And frankly, I don't see either of us stepping forward and making that move.
"We feel we have been aggressively fair in our offer on the economic and non-economic issues, and they don't. Until that bridge is narrowed or shortened some, and I don't know when that time might come, I'm focused on getting the current officials ready for Week 3 and Week 4 ."