AFC South: judge ends lockout

Video: Saturday optimistic about ruling

April, 26, 2011

NFLPA executive committee member Jeff Saturday on the NFL lockout being lifted.
A quick Twitter tour to get a sense of who’s showing up at team headquarters around the AFC South and what’s happened when they have.

I've seen nothing of substance tied to the Texans yet.

Here’s the best from the other three markets.

Indianapolis Colts

@JJFOX59SPORTS (Jeremiah Johnson): Jeff Saturday tells #ESPN that he notified #Colts players and said to keep training as they were (away from facility) "until dust settles"

@Jpeezy25 (Jerraud Powers): Arriving at D1 for workouts....time to get better!

Jacksonville Jaguars

@CBSSportsNFLJAC (RapidReports): Owner Wayne Weaver indicated players won't be getting into the Jags' facility. "We have motions in front of Judge Nelson and I think we just have to wait for her to make a ruling on those motions, then we'll know what our next steps are," he said.

@taniaganguli (Tania Ganguli): #jaguars spokesman tells me what weaver meant was they won't be allowed to work out but will be allowed in the building.

@taniaganguli (Tania Ganguli): Channel 4 left. Now it's just me and first coast news sitting here at EverBank Field. Still no players. #jaguars

Tennessee Titans

@brettkern6 (Brett Kern): Went to the complex to kick ...could not kick but was great to see people !!

@RennieCurran53 (Rennie Curran): Drove all the way out in the rain only to find out no workout, coaches, playbook or nothin. Nobody is really prepared for this situatuion

@glennonsports (John Glennon): Jake Scott says Underwood told him they cld stay in facility, but that there wld be no interaction w organization while there

@glennonsports (John Glennon): Underwood's msg. to Scott today upon arrival: "You’re welcome in the building. Nobody’s going to interact with you if you come in."
Roger Goodell has an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that spells out ownership’s side of the labor debate considering where things stand right now.

“Under the union lawyers' plan, reflected in the complaint that they filed in federal court, the NFL would be forced to operate in a dramatically different way.” Goodell writes. Later he ticks off a long list of ways things would change:
  • No draft. "Why should there even be a draft?" said player agent Brian Ayrault. "Players should be able to choose who they work for. Markets should determine the value of all contracts. Competitive balance is a fallacy."
  • No minimum team payroll. Some teams could have $200 million payrolls while others spend $50 million or less.
  • No minimum player salary. Many players could earn substantially less than today's minimums.
  • No standard guarantee to compensate players who suffer season- or career-ending injuries. Players would instead negotiate whatever compensation they could.
  • No league-wide agreements on benefits. The generous benefit programs now available to players throughout the league would become a matter of individual club choice and individual player negotiation.
  • No limits on free agency. Players and agents would team up to direct top players to a handful of elite teams. Other teams, perpetually out of the running for the playoffs, would serve essentially as farm teams for the elites.
  • No league-wide rule limiting the length of training camp or required off-season workout obligations. Each club would have its own policies.
  • No league-wide testing program for drugs of abuse or performance enhancing substances. Each club could have its own program -- or not.

Goodell is talking long term, not necessarily addressing what happens now that the lockout has been lifted as we await word on whether there will be a stay that freezes things again while we wait for the resolution of the appeal.

On The Wake Up Zone in on Nashville’s 104.5 FM Tuesday morning, I was part of an interview of Kevin Mawae, president of the NFLPA, which has operated as a trade union since decertifying.

He talked about what happens next.

“Technically [the league] can kind of go out and do what they want to do on an individual basis,” Mawae said. “If they do something collectively, there is a chance they can harm themselves in the anti-trust side of the law.”

What would Mawae like to see them do?

“The simplest thing they can do, that can happen is they say, ‘OK we go just back to the 2010 rules. That’s the way everybody can operate, everybody understands it.’ But the downside for the players in that is it locks in a fifth-year player from being a free agent, it prevents player movement...

“The most difficult thing for them to do is to restructure everything to put a whole new system in place within the next couple weeks.”

What about no rules at all and the Wild West scenario? Do the players want to see that?

“We’re all for anything that allows the players to realize their maximum potential on the free agent market. The league has grown exponentially based on the rules that have been in place over the years, but a lot of the rules that have taken place have been very restrictive on the players.

“Case in point, what’s coming up Thursday with the draft. These young players coming up have no choice on what team that can go to. If indeed there was a true free agent market, they could go out there and market themselves to any team they want to go to and choose who they want to play for instead of being told what team they’re going to go play for for the next three to five years depending on what happens with the contract length…

So do Mawae and the PA want to see no draft?

“I’m saying potentially if there is no draft then every kid coming out of college has the potential to negotiate a contract with any team he wants to negotiate with.”

Would that be good for the league?

“It could be, it could not be. We don’t know, we’ve never had a system where there is no draft.”

What does it mean? We don’t know yet.

It’s all about the stay. Judge Susan Nelson Richard did not grant it, so the lockout is technically lifted.

But the league will turn to the Eighth Circuit Appellate Court, asking that the ruling be stayed until the appeal is heard.

If the league gets it, things will remain frozen.

If the league doesn’t get it, then we don’t know what happens or how quickly.

The league could impose the most recent rules -- the final year of the CBA called for no salary cap but six years of service before free agency. Indications before the lockout were that the league would take that approach.

But it sounds the way to ensure no violation of anti-trust laws is no rules, and no rules could create a Wild West where virtually anything goes.

It would seem we're on hold until we see what the court says about the stay.

But as Andrew Brandt says in the attached video, things could get weird quickly. Players with workout bonuses could show up to start to try to earn them tomorrow.