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The NFL Lockout Is Over (For Now, Sort Of)

Apr 26, 2011, 12:13 PM EDT

Big football news out of Minnesota this evening, where Judge Susan Nelson has granted the players an injunction in their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, lifting the lockout. The news per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen indicates the owners will appeal the ruling as expected. In the meantime, the owners requested an immediate “stay” that would keep the lockout in place. However, the NFL Network’s Albert Breer is reporting Judge Nelson declined the motion.

Nobody is entirely sure what happens next. Without a stay, isn’t the league technically open for business right now? Could the Eagles swoop in and sign Nnamdi Asomugha, or even deal Kevin Kolb for 2011 draft picks in the midnight hours?

Some reporters close to the situation seem to suggest we have to wait for the appeals process to run its course, where the league will once again request a stay. But with no stay in place as we speak, what is there to prevent  franchises from making moves? Besides collusion…

As it stands, there is no indication that teams are allowed to begin signing or trading players again at this point.

There is also a belief the NFL has to decide which rules it will operate under before the 2011 league year can begin. That being said, any attempt to impose a salary cap or many of the other rules that limit free agency would appear to be an obvious violation of antitrust laws, opening the league up for further court battles.

Basically, this could be everything, or it could be nothing. Even if the league year doesn’t begin tonight or sometime in the immediate future, another win for the players in the Court of Appeals means we have a season. If this thing gets deadlocked at one-a-piece, there’s no telling when it will be resolved.

>> Judge ends lockout; owners to appeal [ESPN]