The NFL will hire a new vice president to coordinate training and development of officials, one of several structural changes the league will implement in the coming months as part of a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association.
NFLRA executive director Scott Green confirmed that the new hire is spelled out in the CBA, which officials ratified last Saturday. The NFL did not immediately comment.
The new hire will revive a training program that has dwindled from nine to two trainers in recent years. The NFL's endorsement of the NFLRA's request for additional training and development comes at a time when the league has issued a series of significant rule changes and new points of emphasis in recent years.
"The trainers wouldn't be involved in grading officials," Green said. "It would be more of a mutual mentor-type relationship. They would be asking, 'What can I help you get better at?' That sort of thing."
Meanwhile, the CBA also provides a one-time incentive for older officials to retire. Those with 20 years or more experience will be entitled to an enhanced severance package if they step away before next season, Green confirmed. There are 23 officials on the NFL's public roster with at least 20 years of experience, roughly 20% of the staff.
The incentive will give the NFL earlier clarity for offseason hiring, and it could also accelerate an ongoing shift toward younger officials. Currently, Green said, nearly half of the 122-person staff has four or fewer years of experience in the NFL. The new CBA will give the NFL more flexibility in managing those young officials, putting new hires in a three-year probationary status before they have full veteran benefits.
Finally, the CBA allows for the league's full-time officiating program to be reinstituted for the 2020 season, if the NFL chooses to. The program, which the NFL scrapped before this season, allowed the league to designate roughly 20 percent of officials as "full time" in order to include them in additional training, evaluation and team communication efforts.