The NFL says in a memo it will begin the regular season using replacement officials it believes are getting better.
The memo from NFL executive Ray Anderson was sent to teams Wednesday and was posted on CBSSports.com.
In it, the league lays out its plan for the regular season and details what it calls "deadlocked" negotiations with the officials' union on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Despite widespread criticism of their performance, the NFL says in its memo the replacement officials "have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason."
"We will continue the training with each crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary," the memo says. "The replacement officials are dedicated and enthusiastic, have worked very hard to improve, and have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications and performance. We are all grateful for their service to the NFL."
The NFL will support replacement officials on the field with an officiating supervisor upstairs, similar to the practice used in the postseason.
NFL officials have been locked out since early June, when CBA talks broke down and the league began looking to hire and train replacements. Negotiations are currently at a standstill, the NFL said.
"Although we continue to be in touch with federal mediators, and are prepared to resume negotiations at any time, no discussions are currently scheduled," it said.
According to the NFL, the sides remain far apart on economic issues including pay and pension, and non-economic issues involving the league's wish to be able to replace officials it believes are performing inadequately.
The regular season begins next Wednesday when the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys.