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NFL Lockout: When will free agency resume?

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St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney told the press today that they are ready for free agency to start. The Rams brass may have a plan in place, but NFL owners are waiting for the court to let them know when to be ready for the league year to start. 

Today, the players in the antitrust suit formally asked Judge Susan Nelson to force the league to resume operations, including free agency and player trades. That follows the owners request for the court to issue a stay on Nelson's order pending appeal. Owners have until 5 p.m. today to respond to the players' request. 

Essentially, what they're fighting over now is whether or not to begin operations, and which side is harmed more by issuing a stay. In ruling in the players' favor, Nelson sided with their claim of irreparable harm caused by the lockout. Owners are now claiming that they're harmed by her order to lift the lockout and resume business under temporary rules. Nelson will have to decide whether or not the harm done by lifting the lockout and the creation of temporary rules while an appeal proceeds outweighs the harm done to the players by the lockout. Confusing enough for you? 

Given that Nelson has already cited irreparable harm in yesterday's ruling, it seems unlikely that she'll side with the argument that opening the league year creates greater harm. Does that mean you can expect free agency to get underway tomorrow morning? It's difficult to say. This is uncharted territory. The league will need to quickly layout some rules, likely the 2010 no cap rules, to make it work. Right now, the players are asking that business resume with no rules if the league can't impose something...something that might be challenged in the antitrust suit too. 

No Rams players showed up at Rams Park today, but elsewhere players did show up for work under very weird circumstances. Workout facilities are closed, while teams await certainty on the lockout stay and questions about liability, etc. Sheer chaos. 

UPDATE: James Laurinaitis showed up at Rams Park today.