The National Labor Relations Board's regional office has forwarded its initial findings of the NFL's unfair labor practices charge against the NFL Players Association to the Division of Advice in Washington, D.C., wrapping up the first phase of the investigation.
A spokeswoman for the NLRB, Nancy Cleeland, says it's "a very incremental move" and does not necessarily indicate the board is close to a finding in the case.
The D.C. Division of Advice -- a group of lawyers -- will assess the case in the legal context and research precedent as it relates to the league's charge.
A source explained that the case is still open with the NLRB and it could be quite some time before a decision is made on whether or not a complaint will be filed by the board.
NFL owners filed an unfair labor charge against the players' union in February, arguing that the union was not negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement in good faith, asserting that the NFLPA's decertification as a union was a "sham."
The first phase of the NLRB's investigation was largely done collecting evidence.
Lawyers for the NFL and its players met before a three-judge panel Friday at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the judges considering the league's appeal of an injunction lifting the nearly three-month lockout.
Kermit Bye, the presiding judge in the hearing -- and the lone dissenter in the appeals court's previous decisions to stay U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson Nelson's April 25 ruling -- said after the 90-minute hearing that the judges would rule "in due course."
Bye added that the panel "wouldn't be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case" and warned the decision will be one that neither party likes. That decision likely will come in 2 to 6 weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.