Owner victory suggests it's time for a deal

Earlier Monday, we discussed some of the players-only workouts underway in the NFC North during the lockout. Those practices and plans are more relevant than ever now that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has issued a permanent stay against an injunction lifting the NFL lockout.

In plain terms: Owners can continue to lock out players until their full appeal is decided. Hearings are scheduled to begin June 3, with a decision likely by mid-July.

What happens now, however, is anyone's guess. Monday's ruling was strongly worded in favor of the owners and suggested the appeals court will rule in their favor later this summer. If that's the case, players will have lost their previous leverage and face an indefinite lockout.

A reasonable observer might suggest that now is the time for players to pursue a deal -- before they officially lose their leverage. That might be our best hope for an on-time start to training camp, let alone the regular season. As always, stay tuned.