UPDATE: Well, there won't be any player trades today, or all weekend, but we should know when there can be tomorrow.
The NFL released a statement that said it willl announce the timing for the start of the league year tomorrow, along with when free agent sigings and other transactions can happen. The expectation is Monday at the earliest.
Teams also have been told to open their facilities Friday at 8 a.m. and can contact players to let them know that the facilities will be open. Players are allowed to go in for medical exams, treatment, rehab, to talk to coaches, get playbooks, study film, etc. Teams also will be allowed to set up a schedule for OTAs. Voluntary workouts also will begin. Participating players will be paid $130 per day, provided the player fulfills the club’s reasonable off-season workout requirements. Such workouts will count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract.
Of course, potentially none of this will matter depending on how the appeals court rules. If a temporary stay is granted, we are back to where we are now.
As my fingers were pounding away at the keyboard crafting this exquisite prose, the U.S. Court in St. Louis was considering the NFL's appeal of Judge Susan Nelson's refusal to grant a stay of her injnction ending the lockout.
Bottom line, until that court says something, the lockout continues, and even if that court says no to the stay request sometime today, there are no indications the NFL will immediately set up rules for trades and free agency and open for business. So, no trade of Kevin Kolb on the last day the Eagles can get an unused 2011 first- or second-round draft pick in exchange for the quarterback.
In fact, from the league's perspective, nothing has changed since Nelson issued her original ruling Monday afternoon. An Eagles spokesman said this morning he is not aware of any players reporting to the facility today. NFL weight rooms remain closed -- according to The Washington Post, three Redskins who tried to enter their practice facility today were told it was closed, period.
I don't know much about the law, but covering the Eagles, I am very familiar with the concept of contempt -- that's like when you ask a completely reasonable question that fans want answered and are told that the team isn't "going to get into all that." Or when you text/email team officials about labor developments and get no answer whatsoever, not even "I'm sorry, I've been asked not to say anything."
The NFL must be really, really confident it is going to find favor from the St. Louis court. Or it must be really, really panicky and desperate. Judge Nelson indicated last night that it is time for the league to reopen for business. The league has declined to do so. Again, the St. Louis court could turn everything decided so far on its head, but right now, this looks like the kind of train wreck that ultimately is going to cost someone (cough, Roger Goodell, cough) his job.
League vice president Jeff Pash told a conference call Tuesday that the league anticipated and was prepared for Nelson's ruling. If that's true, then the NFL should have a contingency plan for reopening.
Today, the reopening issue is clouded a little by the union formerly known as the NFLPA requesting the St. Louis court put off a decision on a stay until it can say why it objects to one being issued.
But the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reports today that GMs and agents he has spoken to think the stay request will be denied, and the league will have to reopen early next week.
I'm starting to have a better grasp of why Goodell keeps contending that the impasse can only be settled at the bargaining table, not in the courts. Maybe it's because at the bargaining table, the owners can delay (mediation is now on hold until May 16) until players start losing paychecks, which is the only real leverage the owners have. In court, the NFL isn't doing so hot.
Meanwhile, there's this little thing called the draft tonight. The guy I've been most interested in from an Eagles perspective is Colorado CB Jimmy Smith. But there's significant news on that front today -- a contention that Smith's "character issues" include an admission of codeine abuse. Have to admit I'm getting a little hinky about this big, fast corner who otherwise might be perfect for the Eagles.