CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 04: A general view of the Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium as the NFL lockout looms on March 4, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

NFL Lockout Nears End As Owners Vote For Resolution

The NFL lockout rolls on through the offseason.

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NFL Lockout Free Agency: Mark Clayton, Rams Have Three Rumor-Packed Days To Negotiate

As the season drew to a close back in 2010 one thing seemed certain about the St. Louis Rams' receiving corps, weak though it was: Mark Clayton would be back on it. Clayton had been Sam Bradford's favorite target since being acquired in an emergency trade following Donnie Avery's season-ending preseason blowout, and after he was lost for the year himself both sides seemed eager to talk and even more eager to say all the right things. Enter the NFL lockout, and month after month of free agency suspended animation.

Since Clayton and the Rams' seemingly inevitable deal the Rams have drafted two wide receivers and a tight end, replaced their offensive coordinator, and heard great things about Donnie Avery, whose 40 times were perhaps the biggest news of the barren post-draft period for Rams fans. All of a sudden the Rams' receivers aren't much more of a sure thing than they were, but they are considerably greater in number. That makes it tough to see where Clayton will fit in.

We'll know soon, of course. NFL free agency this year will be a kind of nightmarish miniaturized version of same, with all the rumors and sure things and left-field-signings coming in one three-day period of exclusive negotiation with a team's free agents. it's going to be wild, whether they sign him or not.


NFL Lockout Nears End As Owners Vote For Resolution

The St. Louis Rams’ Stan Kroenke was among 31 NFL owners who voted for an immediate end to the NFL lockout Thursday morning after a week of hurried negotiation and more twists and turns than fans were hoping for. The Oakland Raiders were the only team that abstained in the final vote, but now it’s out of management’s hands and onto the players, who were set to hold a conference call later Thursday to address the news.

The players still have a long way to go before they’re ready to begin the 2011 NFL season—which looks, for the moment, like it will escape unscathed from the lockout as we know it. The truncated offseason will begin with an extraordinarily brief free agency season and an equally rough approximation of training camp and the preseason, but before all that is even available the NFLPA will have to deal with the aftermath of having decertified itself as a bargaining move in the early days of the lockout.

We’re not quite in the clear yet, but things are looking better for the NFL than they have since the end of the Super Bowl.


NFL Lockout: Welcome To Possible False Ending Number Infinity

Did you like Inception? Have you ever considered living it? I feel like I’m about to get another kick, because I’m having yet another dream about the NFL lockout being really close to an ending for sure this time guys players and owners are totally psyched about it. Turf Show Times reports, and offers the proper dose of skepticism.

All the right things are being said: Questions about rookie compensation and the salary floor are being addressed, the small-market and big-market teams are all in the room, and—perhaps most importantly—everyone on both sides is increasingly aware of the public backlash that would come from missing the start of the regular season, and the fiscal backlash that would come from missing the otherwise-unimportant preseason.

Look, they fooled me the first time, and I fooled myself the second time, and I don’t even remember what happened the third time. But now I won’t declare the NFL lockout finished until Week 1 has gone down in the books, and even then I’ll be suspicious until Sam Bradford removes his helmet.


NFL Lockout Could Threaten Preseason, Prove It's Not All Bad

Last week it looked like the NFL lockout might end thanks to an assist from the much-maligned preseason, which is such a cash cow for football’s owners that they couldn’t think to have it canceled. If the lockout goes on much longer, though, the preseason will be truncated at best.

Which means it’s time to ask if the NFL lockout is really all that bad. Sure, it’s so choked the life out of the offseason that we’ve been forced to read Plaxico Burress tea-leaves, and it’s threatening the 2011 regular season, and it’s yet another example of the toxic relationship between this sport’s flush owners and its relatively downtrodden players, but there’s something in it for us: The preseason might not happen at this rate.

Think about the games we won’t have to pretend to enjoy—the games season-ticket holders won’t have to give away to fans of whichever team is on the road in the Edward Jones Dome that night—the A.J. Feeley snaps we won’t have to live or die with. Maybe the NFL lockout really just has our best interests in mind.


NFL Lockout: Mark Clayton Happy With Progress, Still Not Officially A St. Louis Ram

Erstwhile St. Louis Rams wide receiver slash veteran presence Mark Clayton was quoted recently about the NFL lockout, suggesting that the players are happy with where things are and that the biggest remaining hurdle is not the negotiation so much as the actual implementation of everything they’ve been negotiating.

Which is good news for Mark Clayton in particular, seeing as he’s still without a job.

A free agent after the 2010 season, Clayton has been seen as a likely Rams target since before the lockout began, but in the meantime the Rams have drafted two wide receivers—Austin Pettis and Greg Salas—and telegraphed a greater reliance on tight ends with the selection of Lance Kendricks. With Donnie Avery set to return in 2011 and the rest of the Rams’ spotty corps of receivers still on the books, new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels might not have a role for Sam Bradford’s first NFL security blanket.

He’ll get a job somewhere after his promising first half with St. Louis, but I’m sure Clayton would like to know sooner rather than later where he’s going to spend the next year. He’ll enjoy the end of the NFL lockout as much as anyone.


NFL Lockout Could Be Nearing End, New CBA Reportedly Nears Completion

The NFL lockout could finally be drawing to a close, if the most recent tea leaves handed out to a hungry crowd of fans, journalists, and fan-journalists is any indication. After weeks with no news, information has begun to leak out about the new collective bargaining agreement currently under debate by NFL owners. The new agreement involves some concessions from the players, but the owners give a little as well, most notably creating a strict-sounding salary floor and capping the share of the revenue they’re allowed to take at 53.5%.

The question now is whether the NFL’s owners, around whom rumors of dissent have begun to orbit, will be able to come together around the new agreement—and if they do, whether the league will be able to rouse itself quickly enough to avoid missing the start of the regular season, or putting a subpar product out there to begin the year.

Even after the lockout ends, the story of the lockout will have only begun; it’s not over until the NFL plays a season and shows off the product it was able to get onto the field after all these unproductive months.


NFL Lockout: Small-Market Owners Could Be Holding Up End To Hostilities

The story about a small cadre of owners who remain unconvinced about the way the NFL lockout negotiations are proceeding—which is, aside from them, swimmingly—continues to gain steam, with Peter King writing over the weekend that it might be small-market (or, more precisely, low-revenue) teams like the St. Louis Rams holding up the deal because of how little it does to boost revenue sharing.

If speculation like that proves to be true it could be a serious bump in the road for the resurgent lockout negotiations. The last thing a new CBA needs to be this late in the process, when the 2011 season itself is threatened, is all things to all people. If it comes down to losing regular season games or not losing them, the CBA needs to be the bare minimum that would get a season in motion from the players’ and owners’ perspective, with the specifics worked out at a later date.

If the small-market teams wanted something a little more comprehensive, they should have spoken up before the lockout began—let alone before it began to encroach on summer.


NFL Lockout End Could Be Days Away, Per CBS Report

The NFL lockout, which has—with a brief interlude for the 2011 NFL Draft—cast a terrible pall over what is usually an unpredictable, exciting offseason, could be on its way to ending sooner than anyone expected. Mike Freeman of reports that negotiations are “80-85 percent complete,” a phrase that could prove permanently memorable if Freeman has actually scored the scoop of a lifetime. (Or permanently infamous if he hasn’t, and we all end up watching the UFL this year.)

Freeman hears both sides are making concessions, which is a major shift from the early days of the lockout, where the owners seemed determined to include the construction of a golden idol of Jerry Jones in any final CBA.

If that kind of timeline is accurate, we could see an end to lockout hostilities between players, owners, and fans before July, which had been until now the most optimistic timeline anyone was reporting. So buck up, St. Louis Rams fans—soon, instead of just speculating about Plaxico Burress, Mark Clayton, and a host of other sketchy veteran receivers, we could watch the Rams speculating about them. Officially-unofficially!


NFL Lockout: Players Win Judge's Ruling, Appeals Likely

The NFL lockout ruling came out Monday afternoon; Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players, and lifting the lockout, but appeals from the owners are likely in the near future. Nelson’s ruling comes after a few weeks of deliberation that have left NFL fans in the same lurch they’ve been in all year.

If the owners’ stay during the appeal is granted, the NFL lockout could extend deep into the season; if it isn’t, the NFL would open as scheduled during the appeals. With free agency and team practices still in doubt, NFL fans are justly clamoring for anything that could lead to a more normal offseason. The St. Louis Rams, for their part, have been busy trying to sign Mark Clayton for the last several months. It’s almost going to be anticlimactic when it finally happens.

As more news comes out, expect seriously varying press releases from the NFL and the victorious NFLPA. Follow along on this storystream and at SB Nation proper.


Brandon Marshall Released From Intensive Care Following Stabbing

Brandon Marshall, stabbed by his wife on Friday badly enough to require surgery, has been released from intensive care and is expected to make a recovery in the next three weeks, according to reports. Marshall, who joined the Miami Dolphins last April after a tumultuous career with the Denver Broncos, isn’t expected to be limited as a football player by the incident.

Marshall’s wife was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the wake of the incident.

This has led to a truly strange test of the NFL Lockout’s limits on contacts between a player and his team. According to a Dolphins spokesman, the team is “not allowed to have any contact with any of [its] players”, including Marshall; the NFL contends that “the team can send well-wishes or… appropriate expressions of support.”

Good support expressions: “Get well soon, Brandon. We hope you sort this situation out, and wish you the best.”

Bad support expressions: “Get well soon, Brandon. Soon enough to learn the playbook. Also, don’t bite all the way down on that cake we sent you.”

I’m sure someone in the NFL is pleased they managed to close that loophole.


NFL Lockout Begins Following NFLPA Decertification

The NFL lockout, a warning in the back of football's collective mind for years, now, officially began Saturday night at midnight, with the NFL owners officially voting for a work stoppage following the NFLPA's decertification earlier in the day. The NFLPA, newly reincarnated as a trade organization with no collective bargaining authority, filed an antitrust lawsuit ahead of the decision. It's the NFL's first lockout since 1987, a debacle which also involved decertification and resulted, eventually, in a season that briefly featured replacement players. Keanu Reeves could not be reached for comment, but ESPN reports that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are among the 10 players officially named on the NFLPA's lawsuit against the NFL. 

The two sides had earlier extended the deadline a week, but aside from talk of an agreement on altering the rookie salary scale neither side would budge from its positions, which are currently separated by two regular season games—the NFLPA refuses to play 18—and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The regular season is a long way away, but offseason workouts are nearing their ostensible start time with no agreement in sight. 


NFL Lockout Likely, NFLPA Decertification Announced

The NFLPA decertified ahead of today's CBA deadline, making an NFL lockout all but certain when the CBA expires at 10:59 CST tonight. The players association has long threatened the decertification, which allows them to attempt to block a lockout as a professional trade association, instead of a players' union. Decertification last occurred in the aftermath of the 1987 NFL strike; the move allowed them to file an antitrust suit that led to the reformation of the NFL's free agency rules. 

In a statement on the NFLPA officially announced its resignation of collective bargaining rights after a week of extended negotiations between the players and the owners proved fruitless. The owners seek to reduce the NFLPA's share of revenues while pushing the regular season to 18 games, something the NFLPA has declared nonnegotiable. The two sides appeared to come to an agreement on one of the other sticking points earlier this week when it was suggested that the rookie salary scale would be reformed. 


NFL Lockout: CBA Deadline Extended An Extra Week

The specter of an NFL Lockout still hangs over the 2011 football season, but the NFLPA and the NFL owners negotiated their second extension today, pushing the expiration of the current CBA—the de facto deadline—ahead an extra week, to next Friday. As Roger Goodell said in a press conference following the announcement, “Talking is better than litigating,” and we now have an extra week of talking to look forward to.

Yesterday’s extension was an emergency action, designed only to keep the two sides talking while they attempted to continue negotiations. This one means negotiations might be going someplace. The chances of a full NFL season in 2011 are suddenly looking better than they have in some time, although questions still remain as to how any compromise would look.

As discussed on SB Nation, the two sides had previously reached such an impasse that an extension was the only possible good news that could come out of this last week of talks. So far, so good—and no NFL Lockout.


NFL Lockout Deadline Extension Still Possible On Final Day

The NFL Lockout deadline is less than a day away, but Adam Schefter is now reporting that an extension of the end of the CBA is now a distinct possibility, and something that the owners in particular are pushing for. That seems to put their resolve to carrying this lockout through in doubt.

With actual agreement unlikely at this late hour, an extension is the best possibility for fans hoping to see an unabbreviated NFL season in 2011. But it’s also the best possibility for the players and owners, if only they can come to an agreement in time to facilitate it.

Both sides have so much to lose here that I can’t imagine a lockout resonating well with either constituency; sports labor disputes have never been popular with the general public, and the NHL and NBA lockouts proved disastrous for their respective leagues, not to mention the MLB strike. The NFL is less about individual players than the NBA or Major League Baseball, but a lockout would only sow more distrust among football fans.

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