Right now nobody really knows what state the NFL is in, but this post is an attempt to clarify exactly where the league is standing right now.
This afternoon Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players and lifted the owner's lockout of the NFL. This means that as it stands right now with no stay in place we are operating under the guise of a 2011 season with no CBA and no restrictions. This means that technically right now players can talk to teams, teams can talk to players and trades could theoretically be made.
What is a 'stay'?
The term you'll be hearing a lot is whether a 'stay' has been granted in the case or not. Essentially a 'stay' is the temporary suspension of a court's ruling while the appeals process takes place. This can first be granted by the ruling judge (Judge Nelson) or if denied by the ruling judge can be sought through the court of appeals. The NFL will ask for a stay from both outlets.
Should a stay be granted then the lockout remains in place until the court's ruling is appealed, if the stay is not granted then the lockout is lifted until the appeals court rules on the case- though at this point the damage will have been done.
What damage? You may ask, we'll look at that after the jump...
What is the worst that could happen with no stay?
Essentially anything that was built into the past CBA has no bearing on the offseason proceedings. Players who were already under contract would not be effected, but players who have been franchise tagged, players who have been RFA tagged etc. would all immediately become unrestricted free agents.
Wait, does that mean Peyton Manning will be an unrestricted free agent?
Yes... and with no salary cap enforced by the CBA watch the fireworks on that one.
What does this mean for the Carolina Panthers?
Nothing good. Jerry Richardson has been completely clear on his stance: The Carolina Panthers will sign no players until a new CBA is in place. Now, perhaps his stance would change slightly if it meant needing to retain Ryan Kalil, but the reality is the Panthers could lose a lot of players to free agency if the league is not kept in check and no stay is granted.
What are the chances a stay will be granted?
Most in the know seem to believe a stay will be granted, either by Judge Nelson or by the court of appeals. The reason for this is basically nothing detrimental is happening to the players right now. If the season had begun and players were losing paychecks the story would be different, but as it stands most lawyers believe a stay will be granted.