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NFL, locked-out refs near deal, ESPN reports

10:48 AM, Sep 26, 2012   |    comments
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By Nate Davis, USA TODAY

The NFL and NFL Referees Association are still negotiating Wednesday after essentially pulling an all nighter Tuesday, per multiple reports, and could be nearing a settlement.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports "an agreement in principle is at hand" and there's even a possibility the regular officials could be on the field this week (though it seems unlikely they'd be back for Thursday's Browns-Ravens game, and they may not be ready for Week 4, period).

Still, the officials seem game to work if the schism is bridged and may merely have to jump through some administrative hoops like physicals, uniform fittings and the like.

NFL Network and ESPN have reported the officials and league have reached a compromise allowing for a squad of developmental officials rather than the three new crews the NFL was pushing for. It seems the last obstacle is finalizing the pension issue both sides have seemed most intractable on and other financial considerations.

The NFL locked out its established officials in June. Talks between the sides have frequently sputtered, though Fox analyst John Lynch told The Dan Patrick Showan agreement was supposedly near prior to Week 1.

The chaos brought by the replacement crews has quickly bloomed, culminating in the Monday night debacle in Seattle where the Seahawks received what seemed like an ill-gotten victory to most.

USA TODAY

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