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NFL Lockout: League Reportedly Plans Work Stoppage If NFLPA Decertifies, Setting Up Antitrust Fight

The NFL is still reportedly moving forward with plans for a lockout, even if the NFL Players Association decertifies ahead of the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. On Saturday, reports surfaced indicating the union planned to disband in an effort to block the lockout, taking the fight to the courts instead of the bargaining table. Moving ahead with a lockout would put the NFL in uncharted territory, however, as the league wouldn’t be able to lock anything out without a players’ union.

It’s complicated, but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio explains the NFL would, essentially, be going out of business during the work stoppage instead of declaring a lockout. Doing so has could, potentially, be an antitrust violation, strengthening the position of the NFLPA.

If the union decertifies, it is not really correct to call it a ‘lockout,’" Gary Roberts, a former outside counsel for the league told SportsBusiness Journal. "As soon as you don’t have a union, it’s an employer ceasing operations."

Some think that shutting the doors to a non-union work force would amount to an antitrust violation.

By decertifying, the union could take its fight to the courts, filing an injunction to stop the lockout and filing an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The NFL could counter, fighting the decertification through the National Labor Relations Board. The league already took the first step, filing a motion accusing the NFLPA of failing to bargain in good faith.

It all amounts to a messy legal situation as both sides jockey for position ahead of Thursday’s deadline. The current CBA expires at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday and the NFL is expected to force a work stoppage, locking the players out. Doing so would put the brakes on the offseason, preventing teams from signing free agents or filing out their rosters as they would in a normal year.

For the latest on a potential work stoppage and more information about what it means, check out the rest of our NFL lockout StoryStream. To connect with Seahawks fans and commiserate about the impending lockout, check out SB Nation’s Field Gulls.