By Michael Bennett

The NFL has finally, grudgingly agreed to have full-time officials!

The league and the NFL Referees Association announced yesterday a joint agreement to hire between 21-24 full-time officials for the 2017 season. Those positions will come from the current pool of 124 officials.

The full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions and may work on any of the 17 officiating crews. They will also have additional duties working with league staff in the offseason.

“We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement.

Previously all NFL officials were part-time employees who held other jobs outside of their refereeing duties.

The push to hire full-time officials has intensified in recent years as criticism of officiating has intensified after several high-profile questionable calls (or non-calls), like Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s non-catch in a playoff game against Green Bay in 2014, as well as issues with calling pass interference and hits on the quarterback.