(The Sports Xchange) - The NFL will hire as many as 24 full-time game officials for the upcoming 2017 season, the league and the NFL Referees Association announced Wednesday.
Full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions. The NFL currently employs a roster of 124 officials, including 17 crews of seven people apiece and five swing officials that serve as substitutes.
Prior to Wednesday's announcement, officials have worked as contractors to the league.
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"We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said. "We share a common goal, which is to make our game as great as it can possibly be, and look forward to working together on this new effort."
NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green also sees this move as a step in the right direction.
"NFL officials are always looking to improve, and we believe that additional time, particularly in the offseason, will be positive," Green said. "We're looking forward to working together with the league on this effort."