If the NFL is forced to open back up for business, there will need to be a set of rules by which everyone would follow. The last set of rules was set forth by the previous CBA but, since there's no CBA, the league needs rules by which to operate.
Many folks (myself included) have assumed that the league would more than likely operate under the 2010 set of rules. That would mean no salary cap and the threshold for free agency would be six years (as opposed to four) thereby limiting the amount of player movement.
The rules instituted by the league may not actually be the 2010 rules. Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports a group of league folks are creating a new set of free agency rules which could be "very different" from the 2010 set of rules. Kaplan reports it "might not alter [the] onfield game."
One of the biggest differences in free agency right now is that you need six years of service to qualify for free agency rather than just four years (pre-2010 rules).
It's important to note that the league could still revert back to the 2010 rules instead of creating new rules.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to the reports regarding the rules.
"Our goal has at all times been the same - to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and the NFLPA. The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments."
Translation: the NFLPA took us to court so may have to implement different rules for the 2011 season.
If only both sides could guarantee there would actually be a 2011 season...