Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the NFL and NFLRA, who have been engaged in intense negotiations since Monday afternoon, have an agreement in principle at hand. He adds that both sides are working feverishly to finalize said deal in an effort to have the referees return to work as early as this weekend.
With a Thursday night game on tap, the league may ultimately decide it's only fair to keep the replacement officials working through the weekend. Having them officiate the primetime game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens would offer an unfair competitive advantage to the remaining 28 NFL teams that will play during week four.
The NFLRA insists its 121 referees are well-versed on all the new rules changes, as well as the new Nike jerseys that they consider "[no] obstacle." Additionally, all 121 referees have already passed or are ready to pass necessary physicals, so that, too, will not be a hang-up.
UPDATE: Peter King of Sports Illustrated reports that, despite the ESPN report, a deal is "not imminent."
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