The NFL and the NFL Referee's Association have come to an agreement on a new, long-term collective bargaining agreement that will even put the real refs back on the field for Thursday night's Baltimore-Cleveland game.
The Bergen Record's Tara Sullivan first reported the two sides reached an eight-year agreement to put the regular referees back on the field this weekend. Jim Daopoulos, a former official and NBC's current officiating consultant, confirmed to Pro Football Talk (also owned by NBC) that the two sides came to an agreement. All that's needed now is for the referees to meet in person tomorrow to ratify the deal, and then the refs will go through a refresher course on the NFL rules before receiving their assignment's for this weekend's games.
There was some worry the deal wouldn't leave enough time for real refs to work Thursday night's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, meaning those two teams would play one extra game without real refs, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
All it took was some bickering between politicians, and an elephant drawing from Newt Gingrich, and the NFL was able to close a deal with the league's regular officials. No, wait, it was the embarrassment of the replacement officials costing the 2011 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football after a contested hail mary pass wasn't intercepted, according to the replacements, by a Green Bay defender.
We'll update this space with any relevant new information.
Update: ESPN's Kevin Blackistone reports the referees got their requested pension plan through 2018, which would be the first half of the deal, and then it switches to the league-requested 401k.