NFC East: judge ends lockout

Here are some bottom-line bullet points about how the NFL will operate over the next few days after this week's labor developments:
  • The draft will go on as scheduled, beginning Thursday night.
  • Team facilities remain closed to players through Thursday.
  • Starting Friday at 8 a.m. ET, teams can resume football contact with players. Facilities will be open for workouts, coaches can meet with players about football matters, playbooks can be handed out organized team activities (OTAs) can be held if teams choose to. The same goes for minicamps.
  • Contract discussions and player movement will still be barred, however. The NFL will notify teams later Friday when the free-agent market will open and when trades will be allowed. Early speculation is that it won't come before next Monday.

This timeline is subject to the NFL's request for a stay of the injunction that has forced this awkward period. That request is currently before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

So all of the above would be rendered moot if the stay is granted.

Again, nothing has changed for Thursday and it might not change at all if the stay is granted.

Now, back to the draft. ...
So there’s movement on the labor front in the NFL but only one thing appears certain and that is more time spent in court.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in favor of the players on Monday, ordering an end to the NFL lockout. The NFL, though, will appeal the ruling and there is a lot more that has to take place for football to eventually be played again.

Nelson said the lockout was causing “irreparable harm” to the players. Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora is a plaintiff in the players’ case and he described the ruling as a victory for the players.

“Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011,” Umenyiora said in a statement released from the NFL Players Association, which decertified when talks broke down in March. “The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”

The NFL released a statement: "We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."

So what’s next? We know the NFL will appeal but it is unclear what happens in the meantime. There’s no collective bargaining agreement in place so free agency and transactions are on hold. It’s not even clear whether players can go to team facilities before a ruling on the appeal since they were not allowed to do so during the lockout.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said on ESPN that he was going to tell his teammates to go to the Steelers facility.

"I and Charlie Batch have been texting guys and calling guys immediately, once we heard that the lockout has been lifted, to let them know that the building has to be open tomorrow, let them know that football can continue," Clark said on ESPN. "We are allowed to be around at least until they figure out if the owners can get a stay or not on the lockout being lifted."

"So I am telling guys to go in, I am telling guys to get to work," Clark continued. "So we are excited about being able to get back into the building, to get to work. From our standpoint, we have been telling our guys that the buildings are open, that the judge has made a ruling and until something changes, let's get to work and get this thing started."

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, said on ESPN that the players will receive guidance later on Monday night on what to do next now that the lockout has been lifted.