On Monday evening the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep the lockout in place throughout the appeals process. That means that the lockout could be here to stay through a June 3 court hearing and until a decision is made from the judges.
In their written opinion, the Eighth Circuit made it clear that the league is likely to succeed in the appeal in that June 3 hearing.
"[W]e have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League's lockout, and accordingly conclude that the League has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits."
This is why the lockout can be so confusing -- going from court to court drastically changes how the facts are interpreted. Nelson strongly sided with the players while the Eighth Circuit has strongly sided with the league.
This represents a major momentum shift as now the league arguably has the upper hand. And the league's strategy involves locking the players out so, if they have the upper hand, we're at their mercy when it comes getting football back.
That said, perhaps the best shot at getting football back as soon as possible is a new CBA between the two sides with the return to mediation this week. The league reportedly made an offer to the NFLPA on Monday night and the players are said to be looking it over.
Even if it's not much different than the last offer made shortly before the lockout, the players should strongly consider the deal. With the Eighth Circuit clearly leaning toward the league, the players have lost leverage. A deal with the league right now may be in their best interest rather waiting for the appeals process to play out.