How Much Money Do NFL Referees Earn?

How Much Money Do NFL Referees Earn?

National Football League referee salaries range largely based on experience. For rookie referee entering the NFL, their salary starts around $78,000 per year. As referees gain experience, their salaries increase. Once they reach veteran level status they are paid in excess of $200,000 per year.

These numbers are expected to rise by 2019. These veterans get paid roughly $3,000 per game, with the remaining $150,000 paid out throughout the rest of the year. If a referee crew is selected for playoff games and/or the Super Bowl, they will receive a larger payout. Referees are paid more for these games and can make more than $10,000 for the Super Bowl. NFL referees are considered part-time or seasonal employees. They are able to work others job during the offseason, only needing to put time in here and there to remain up-to-date on rule changes. 

Are NFL Refs Overpaid?

Depending on a person’s viewpoint, an NFL referee may be viewed as wildly overcompensated or paid within reason when looking at the league’s revenue and salaries for players and coaches. Compared to the other major leagues in North American – NFL referees are the lowest paid, but also work the least. The table below shows the salaries of each of the major North American sports league salaries and their average salary for games worked. 

In the other major leagues, referees can make more than double that of an NFL ref, but in terms of average salary per game – no league comes close to the NFL

Full-Time Referees

The popular opinion amongst many in the sports community is the NFL adopting full-time referees would be a beneficial move. The offseason would be a time to focus on fixing mistakes, reviewing missed calls and overall improving their in-game skills. If adopted, their salaries would increase by 50% or more – as stated in their contracts they may earn up to 50% of their refereeing salary for off-season employment. This would place the top NFL referees at about $300,000 per season with a 50% rise and as the NFL has deep pockets and a top-dog mentality it would not be absurd to see their salaries match that of their NBA counterparts. 

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