Free agency unlikely on Thursday

Some of you night owls might be aware that U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has denied the NFL's request for a stay on the injunction that lifted its lockout earlier this week. Technically that means the league is open for business, including trades and free agent signings, on the eve of the 2011 draft.

Practically, however, it appears Thursday will evolve much like Tuesday and Wednesday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the NFL will tell its teams to hold off on all offseason business, with the exception of the draft, while it files a stay request with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. ESPN analyst and National Football Post president Andrew Brandt concurred, tweeting that the NFL won't effectively open its doors for business unless it fails to receive a stay from the appeals court.

Bottom line: If you were hoping your NFC North team would sign a free agent or two before the draft begins Thursday night, or would like them to include players in trade offers during the draft, I'm sorry. As of late Wednesday night, at least, that doesn't appear likely. We're back at it in the morning.