NFL Lockout: The Lockout is Lifted and Reveals Uncertainty

According to Chris Mortenson of ESPN the NFL Lockout has been lifted.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson has granted NFL players their motion for a preliminary injunction, therefore lifting the lockout that was imposed by owners on March 11.

The NFL is presumably rushing to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to request a stay on the decision pending an appeal. If this is not granted it is open season for free agents. Business would likely be conducted under last year's rules, and that seems like the most feasible and likely choice. However, that is certainly not written in stone. If that is the case, all the tenders the Raiders placed on players would remain in place, and Kamerion Wimbley would still be under the franchise tag. There would also be no salary cap (Nnamdi back?).

Also, technically I think teams could begin discussing business with players right now. Although you have to imagine the league told all teams to hold off until there was a ruling on the stay. That ruling is expected within the week.

If the stay is granted we will remain in this frozen climate of NFL inactivity, and await a verdict on the appeal. A date has not yet been set for the appeal, but it is not expected to be too far off. According to The New York Times the appeal process is expected to last a month or several weeks longer.

Update: ESPN's senior legal adviser, Lester Munson, was just on SportsCenter. He has reviewed the judge's decision and feels that she worded it in such a way that he thinks the NFL's request for a stay will be hard for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant. Here is a PDF version of her decision. I'd read it, but I don't speak lawyer.

The ruling does not come as a big surprise. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richardson has made it clear that she was leaning towards the players, but the NFL was hoping she would stay her decision. The players are still free to pursue their antitrust suit.

Stay tuned for a decision on the stay as that is going to be the next big piece of news, and if that is not granted we are going to be under a blitzkrieg of activity. Teams may be making draft picks and signing free agents between those picks.

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