ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen reports a source telling him that "an agreement in principle is at hand."
The league locked out referees when negotiations broke down this summer. Non-union replacement officials, hired from small-college divisions and various semi-professional leagues, including the Lingerie Football League, have been handling the officiating since the NFL Hall of Fame Game.
The league and the union are at odds over pension issues, salary, and the commissioner's desire to be able to "bench" officials who underperform.
The NFLRA argues the commissioner essentially has that power already, since between one and four crews are inactive each week and one could substitute for the other if the league felt there was a problem.
The replacement refs have been the target of critics who said the scab crews were not experienced enough to officiate at football's highest level. Examples included NFL players talking about replacement refs as if they were "star struck" to be on the field with them, an official pulled before the New Orleans Saints at Carolina contest because of pro-Saints statements the officials made on his Facebook page, and Monday night's now-infamous Hail Mary that decided the Green Bay Packers at Seattle game for the Seahawks.