NFL Lockout: Will Al Davis Start Signing Players?

Unlike the past quiet days that had transpired during the NFL lockout, The Oakland Raiders team facility should be buzzing with player activity on Tuesday. "Why?" You ask. Because Zach Miller told his teammates to go. "I told my guys if they are under contract, they are allowed to go into the facility tomorrow to work out, get treatment and watch film." Miller was quoted as saying by Adam Schefter on ESPN.

Of course, Miller himself isn't under contract, which is good for a laugh. We have to take it as a good sign to his future as a Raider that he said his guys, but that is fodder for another post. Miller isn't just telling "his" guys this on a whim. The entity formerly known as the player's union instructed its players that teams are not allowed to block their access to the facilities.

This is something that teams are likely going to be on board with. The NFL Management Council advised teams to let players into their buildings. They did tell them that they were not to allow them access to the weight rooms. 

Jim Quinn, an attorney for the players, said in the linked ESPN article:

"They [the league] better act quickly, because as of right now there's no stay and, presumably, players could sign with teams. There are no guidelines as of right now, so they have to put something in place quickly."

In the meantime, teams were instructed not to engage in any contract talks.

I think we all know f there was one owner in football that would be willing to go against this it would be one Mr. Al Davis. However, the water is probably even too murky for his liking at this point.

At the moment, the NFL is under no rules. They likely aren't even able to invoke the past CBA as there is no player's union. Which would mean that it is a world of completely unrestricted free agency. And I am not sure any owner is prepared to usher that world in. Michael McCann of SI.com sheds some light on the current wild west NFL landscape:

For that reason, collectively bargained rules, such as restrictions on free agency or the salary cap, are unlikely to remain in effect. In fact, if teams proceed as if they are, they could run afoul of federal antitrust law.

It gets crazier. If things persist under these circumstances teams will likely be forced to actively not honor the restrictions, or they will face a different antitrust lawsuit.

All of which shifts the onus to get a deal done onto the owners. And that is likely going to be the real importance of the today's ruling. This is likely going to be seen as the day negotiating power went from the owners to the players. The owners now have to agree with the player's on a new CBA or they will be unable to place any restrictions on contracts or free agency.

Unless the NFL's appeal is upheld, which seems unlikely at this point, the ruling today will stand until the Brady v. NFL case, which likely wouldn't be until 2012. And until a permanent or temporary CBA is reached I would expect teams to hold off on signing anyone—even the Raiders.

In the meantime, I hope all Raiders listen to Miller and show up at the facility. Coaches haven't been able to talk to players and Hue undoubtedly has some tweaks in the playbook. They need to take advantage of this clouded time while they can and get as much info to players as possible.

Update: Pro Football Talk tweeted that, according to league sources, teams are telling coaches they are still not allowed to talk to players. 
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