On Tuesday, not long before it was reported that a deal between the league and its locked-out officials is “at hand,” it also was reported that the league and the locked-out officials had agreed to create a developmental squad that wouldn’t be used as a “bench” during a given season.
Though it’s unclear whether there was a tentative agreement to that end, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the NFL has secured the ability to develop a pool of potential substitutes — and to use them as in-season replacements for underperforming officials. The key, as vaguely implied by the NFL’s statement on the new labor deal with the officials, is that the NFL will be responsible for paying the extra officials. And the benched officials.
Previously, the locked-out officials were balking at the notion that the compensation for all officials (including the “bench”) would come from the same pot of money, necessarily decreasing the per-official compensation.
It’s a win-win proposition. If one or more officials are deemed to be in a slump or otherwise not able to continue to perform at the level the NFL expects, they’ll get tapped on the shoulder and replaced. But, like Keyshawn Johnson when he was sent home by the Buccaneers in 2003, they’ll be paid.
The league had wanted to change a system of entitlement to one of accountability. In the end, the officials will remain entitled to their money, but they won’t be entitled to actually work for it.