One of the more confusing elements to the 8th circuit's ruling is that they say the NFL's lockout is legal, but cannot be applied to 'unsigned players', meaning rookies and free agents. Right now nobody really knows what this means; should free agency be open now? Can rookies begin work with NFL coaches until they sign a contract? It's all very puzzling.
The most pertinent reason for this ruling is that it still allows the NFLPA's anti-trust case against the league to go forward on behalf of free agents and potential free agents, while Miller (Von) v. NFL would still go ahead representing the NFL rookies.
Some analysts believe this is ultimately a dead head between who gained more leverage, but what remains to be seen is whether the NFLPA will upset the apple cart and demand free agency be opened immediately, given the 8th circuit say the lockout can't apply to them. Personally, I'd love to see Newton start practicing immediately, after all, might as well work with Mike Shula at this point. What makes this scary, however, is what it would mean if free agency opened now. It's unlikely the Panthers would sign players without a CBA, but would that change if it meant losting CJ, D-Will or Anderson?
Here's hoping both sides get a CBA hammered out before it becomes an issue.
UPDATE: From Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post
Regarding questions about FAs/rookies, ruling does not allow teams to start signing; kicks it back to Judge Nelson for hearing.
That clears this up, but one wonders if Nelson would side with players like before and essentially open FA.