Our experts attempt to answer what all fans of the NFL want to know: When will the lockout come to an end?
This is a total crapshoot here. We're all just guessing, and anyone who would say otherwise is, well, just guessing.
<table align="right" width="315px"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <content:static src="/widgets/custom/packages/latest_debates.html"></content:static></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> But I'm not surprised at all we're sitting on an appeal court's timetable with June approaching. This much was expected -- whomever lost Judge Susan Richard Nelson's decision was going to appeal.
Here's how I see it playing out:
The "expedited" schedule with the 8th Circuit still results in a decision sometime after July 4. I'll throw a dart at a calendar and say July 11. And I'll say, based off the wording of the stay, that the court sides with the owners.
Which means we're back where we were 22-odd months ago when negotiations began. In this scenario, my best-case is a deal sometime around Aug. 15, but, honestly, all bets are off. A truncated season, in my estimation, becomes a very real probability.
The lockout's end and the start of a new CBA will be simultaneous, because I do not anticipate a court-ordered lifting of the lockout. My expectation is, with the players unlikely to score any substantial court victories, earnest discussions toward putting a long-term CBA in place should begin during in early June, and an agreement will be reached somewhere around the Fourth of July. Coaches and general managers then are going to spend what normally is a down period navigating through what likely will be as wild and furious a free-agency/trade period as the NFL has ever seen. Although training camps might be delayed and there could be some adjustments needed to preseason schedules, the regular season should be able to start on time.
Once a ruling from the June 3 hearing comes down, I figure the owners and players will begin bargaining. There has been a lot of bluster from both sides about alienating fans and maintaining fans that dig the game, etc. We'll see if there's substance to the fans' concerns if they get to bargaining quickly or they take their time like they have better things to do. I'm projecting a deal gets done no later than July 9 and free agency starts a few days later. I don't think we'll miss preseason games. Call me an optimist.