Judge rules in favor of NFL players; appeal expected

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Judge rules in favor of NFL players; appeal expected

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.comThe NFL isn't open for regular business again. But it's getting closer. Late Monday, Judge Susan Nelson grantedNFL players an injunction to stop the NFL's six-week lockout.In essence, the lockout's been lifted. And Nelson didn't grant a "stay" of her decision meaning that - as far asher ruling is concerned - business opens back up immediately. The NFL iscurrentlyworking to get the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant the stay that Nelson didn't. If the appeals court doesn't order a stay, free agency would begin immediately (most likely under the 2010 rules) and players would be okay to return to work and have contact with their coaches. The ruling by Nelson was expected. The only surprise is that there was no stay granted, meaning that chaos - just three days before the 2011 NFL draft - could loom. "I have no idea where this leaves us tonight, tomorrow,where this leaves us in the next 10 minutes or thenext 10 days," said Pete Kendall, a longtime NFL player who was at the forefront of mediation between the players and owners. "We'll see how quickly theEighth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the stay."Kendall is pretty sure the owners are well-prepared for whatever is currently occuring though. "I don't think it's necessarily the Wild, Wild West," he cautioned. "The owners' representatives have considered every possible contingency. There's little doubt in my mind that they considered this contingency and have a plan for what just transpired. I'm sure they have rules that they will try and implementfor how this season plays out." Kendall noted that this is big for the players, though. "I think it's great news for the players, I think it's great news for the fans," he said. "If the court of appeals upholds Judge Nelson's decision, it seems to me we're all but ensured a football season." Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

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Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?