As Ted. . .who has been doing a killer job today. . .just informed you, Judge Susan Nelson today sided with the players and moved that the NFL's lockout be ended. As expected, the NFL owners immediately appealed.
Now, it's not the appeal that's important in this case. . .it's whether or not Judge Nelson elects to stay the previous court's ruling. If she agrees to stay the ruling while the NFL is making its case to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, then nothing changes. . .the lockout will remain in place and player movement and things of that nature will remain frozen.
However, if she says that she isn't going to stay the ruling, that means the lockout will be well and truly lifted, and the NFL owners would have to implement a set of rules to facilitate player movement. In that instance, the league is simply expected to implement the rules from last season. . .which the players wouldn't necessarily be beating down the door to play by or anything like that.
See, with the new labor agreement being negotiated, the requirement for unrestricted free agency was expected to go back to the standard four years of NFL service, which it had been. . .prior to last season. Under last season's rules, however, the requirement would be for six years of NFL service in order to gain unrestricted free agency.
A lot of NFL players wouldn't be terribly happy with this, but only two of those players are guys that we, as Viking fans, should actually give a rip about. Those players are wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Ray Edwards. Edwards was quite unhappy last season, as he was a four-year player that expected to get a taste of unrestricted free agency, but was denied that because of the change to the service rule. Rice, who just completed his fourth year in the NFL this past season, was also looking to get out into the free agent market and peddle his services.
If the owners implement the 2010 rules, both of those players would be restricted free agents rather than unrestricted. And, before the lockout, the Vikings placed first-round tenders on both players, meaning that if any team wanted to sign them away from Minnesota, the Vikings would get that team's first-round selection. . .be it this year's or (more likely) next year's. . .in return.
So, if you're Sidney Rice or Ray Edwards, you're probably quite unhappy about that. As a Viking fan, if it means that Ray and Sidney are staying in Minnesota for at least one more season. . .well, I can live with that.