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The Lockout might be over, but what happens next?

What happens next is anyone's guess, but at least we know Roger Goodell's iron-fists are a thing of the past.

When I heard the lockout was over I was overjoyed. Regardless of what happens next there will almost definitely be football in the fall. The thought of football-less Sundays was terrifying. But we don’t need to worry anymore.

 

That was the simple happiness I elected to embrace for the night, choosing to ignore the fact that this remains an enormously complicated situation. Now, either the players or Judge Nelson have to decide whether to grant the owners a stay.

Immediate thought upon hearing this: what the hell is a stay?

“A stay of proceedings is a stopping or arresting of a judicial proceedings by the direction or order of a court…; (a) a kind of injunction with which a court freezes its proceeding at a particular point, stopping the prosecution of the action altogether, or holding up some phase of it.”A stay may imply that the proceedings are suspended to await some action required to be taken by one of the parties as, for example, when a non-resident has been ordered to give security for costs. In certain circumstances, however, a stay may mean discontinuance or permanent suspension of the proceedings.” (as defined by Canada’s Supreme Court)

The news came out today that Judge Nelson will not be ruling on the stay according to Will Brinson of CBSSports, and instead will give the players until 9 am tomorrow to grant the league’s request for a stay.

If Judge Nelson had rejected the stay request, it would have forced the NFL to return to business as usual, which would mean the league would operate under the 2010 rules, with no salary cap.

This is probably why Judge Nelson gave the players an opportunity to grant the owners a stay, because returning to these rules won’t benefit either side. Andrew Brandt, of NationalFootballPost.com detailed why.

Don’t expect signings and trades right away.  The NFL needs to set rules to operate under and without that, no team will have any contact with players. Before anything else, the NFL has to establish rules to operate under.  Those rules will likely be the 2011 rules — no Salary Cap, six years until free agency, 30% rule, etc. — but not in place just yet.

In all of these machinations, let’s not lose sight of what this all is really about:  getting a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the NFL to operate under for years to come.

Even if the lockout is lifted upon appeal for a stay, we will still be under some temporary rules — likely the 2010 rules — where teams will be hesitant to commit large sums due to labor uncertainty, even moreso than in 2010.  Also, players would need six, rather than four years of service, to be free agents, leading to a diluted group of free agents and a disgruntled group of fourth and fifth year players.

This obviously isn’t a perfect world for the players. On top of this, rookie wage scales wouldn’t be redefined, and the franchise tag would still exist, which would definitely piss off Logan Mankins. So today, they are probably searching for a way to avoid this.

But it also isn’t a great place for the owners either, as Michael Silver pointed out, because it would take away their biggest weapon: solidarity.

The start of the league year would severely test the owners’ much-trumpeted solidarity, as soon-to-be unrestricted free agents like Oakland Raiderscornerback Nnamdi Asomughawould hit the market. If no one makes the perennial All-Pro an offer, for example, the owners could be staring at another legal nightmare, the dreaded C-word (collusion). Yet if teams come at Asomugha with enormous offers – likely in an environment devoid of salary-cap protections – there may be dissension within the owners’ ranks.

The good thing about this is, since this scenario doesn’t benefit either side it could lead them to adopt reasonable negotiations. The players want to adjust the rookie wage scale, do away with the franchise tag, get better retirement benefits and protect the money they are making now.

There is no reason the owners, having lost their iron fist, can’t concede to these and avoid drawing out this painful process even further.

Of course, there is no reason any of this needed to happen in the first place.

My prediction is, the players and owners agree to allow players to return to the team facilities and begin collecting their checks again, but players won’t be traded or signed until a new CBA is in place, which they will begin negotiating next week instead of May 15.


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2 Responses to “The Lockout might be over, but what happens next?”

  1. Alan says:

    Where do you get the idea that the judge’s order would force the owners to return to 2010 rules? My reading of the order is completely different. In 2010, the players were represented by a union and therefore the owners could act in collusion to negotiate collectively bargained working conditions. The judge’s order is unequivocal in stating that era has ended, that the players are no longer represented by a union, and that owners may no longer act in collusion. This means that the owners and players are now free to contract for any player’s services, at any price and at any time, subject only to the contract terms negotiated by the individual players. There is also no longer any salary cap or any draft, both of which are illegal collusion. Essentially, any player or prospective player, including a rookie, who is not under contract, is an unrestricted free agent. The owners themselves recognized that would be the outcome when they argued the judge should not prevent the lockout because they would then be forced to pay market salaries to the players without any restrictions, which they claimed would upset the league’s competitive balance. Despite the owner’s claims, that is exactly the implication of her order. If the owner’s don’t like it, then they should negotiate the best deal they can get, and move on.

    • Mike Perkins says:

      I didn’t say the judge’s order would force the owners to return to the 2010 rules. I said, based on an informed opinion, that that’s what would happen.

      Andrew Brandt reitterated that again when he wrote:

      If the NFL opens for business, which rules will they implement?

      The NFL will most likely implement the 2010 work rules — meaning no Salary Cap, six years required to free agency, 30 % rule, etc. — since the NFLPA — then a union — had previously said that they would not mind operating under that system.

      As he addresses, just because there is no longer a union doesn’t mean the Players Aassociation doesn’t exist, and starting a league year without any rules whatsoever is in noone’s best interest.

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