NEW YORK -- Officiating director Dean Blandino is leaving the NFL to spend more time with his family and explore other opportunities.
Blandino has been the league's vice president of officiating since 2013 and has overseen several changes in the way the game has been officiated, with an emphasis on player safety.
"Dean has done an outstanding job leading our officiating staff," NFL vice president Troy Vincent said in a memo to NFL executives, presidents, general managers and head coaches that was obtained by ESPN. "He's been a trusted colleague and a friend to so many of us around the league. Dean's knowledge of the playing rules, his tireless commitment to improving the quality of NFL officiating, and his unquestioned dedication to his job has earned him the respect of the entire football community."
The memo said Blandino will remain with the NFL until at least the end of May, and a search for a successor has already begun.
The 45-year-old Blandino has young children, and the demands of his job have limited the time he has spent with them and his wife. Sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Blandino is expected to go into broadcasting as a rules analyst and has had discussions with multiple networks.
Blandino joined the NFL in 1994 as an intern and moved through the ranks. He was an instant replay official from 1999 to 2003 and worked two Super Bowls and two conference championship games. He managed the NFL's instant replay program from 2003 to 2009, and from 2007 to 2009 he was director of officiating, supervising day-to-day operations and the game officials' schedule under Mike Pereira.
He left the NFL in 2009 to form his own company, returned in 2012 and succeeded Carl Johnson as chief of officiating the next year.
During his three years away from the NFL, Blandino launched "Under the Hood," which provided training and evaluation for replay officials. His clients included the NFL and college conferences such as the Big Ten, Mid-American, Pac-12, Big 12, and Mountain West. He directed instant replay clinics for the NFL and NCAA and served as a liaison to the NFL's competition committee.
Blandino has been a strong voice on the powerful competition committee that suggests rules changes. Those changes have included eliminating chop blocks; decreasing the number of kickoff returns -- football's most dangerous play statistically -- by moving up the kickoff; and expansion of defenseless player parameters to include snappers and other players.
This season, the NFL will institute referees' use of Surface tablets for video replay. Under Blandino, the NFL's central office in New York has conferred with referees on replay decisions since 2014. Now that office, albeit without Blandino, will make the final call.
Blandino also been open with teams, media and the public when officiating errors have been made, while also staunchly defending his officials when their calls have been correct.
Among the other noteworthy moves by his officiating department was the hiring of line judge Sarah Thomas as the first full-time female NFL official in 2015.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.