The National Football League will freeze its pension plan covering referees at the end of the 2016 season under an agreement reached Sept. 26 that settles a highly publicized labor dispute.
The NFL had sought to immediately freeze the plan, which it said was too expensive. But under the compromise agreement with the National Football League Referees Association, the plan will continue for five more seasons for current officials.
Retirement benefits will be provided through a defined contribution plan to new referees immediately and for all officials beginning in 2017.
Under the defined contribution plan, the NFL will make an automatic contribution to each game official, averaging $18,000 per official, with the amount increasing to $23,000 in 2019. The NFL also will partially match contributions that referees make to their 401(k) plan accounts.
With an agreement in place, "It's time to put the focus back on the teams and players, where it belongs," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement.
"We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games," NFLRA president Scott Green said in a written statement.