What comes to mind after the NFL announced it would seek replacement officials in the absence of a new labor agreement with the NFL Referees Association:
There's plenty of time for a resolution. We're 96 days away from the regular-season opener. In the past, we've seen the NFL and its officials at odds deep into the summer, threatening the regular season before finally reaching agreement in September. There's no need for panic.
Replacement refs might do just fine, anyway. The drop from current officials to replacement officials would not begin to approach the drop from current players to replacements. We're talking about doing what Gene Steratore does, not what Tom Brady does. Big difference. And, last time I checked, the current officials were not perfect. They've even made public apologies.
Rules changes continue to take pressure off officials. Last year, the NFL called for booth reviews on scoring plays. The latest changes require booth reviews for turnovers. Coaches already have a challenge system at their disposal. Officiating requires skill and and deep knowledge of a fairly complex rulebook, but it's getting tougher for worst-case scenarios to play out in NFL officiating.