The NFL and the NFL Referees Association ended the officials lockout when they agreed to an eight-year collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night.
The deal, which is the longest between the two sides in NFL history, will allow officals to return to the field for Week 4, beginning with Thursday night's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. The agreement must still be ratified by the NFLRA membership with a vote planed for Friday and Saturday. To allow officials to work Thursday's game, Roger Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout.
The major agreement points include a defined benefit pension plan, retirement benefits, an increase in compensation, the option to hire officials on a full-time basis and the ability to form an official training and development program. Goodell said the agreement will allow for long-term reforms that will improve officiating. Complete details of the major agreement points can be found below in the press release from the NFL.
- Eight-year term covering the 2012-2019 seasons.
- The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of service). The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.
- Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement, which will have two elements: an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.
- Apart from their benefit package, the game officials' compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.
- Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.
- The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.