If you have been wondering why more hasn't been written on when the lockout will end, it's because no one knows. Even if a group of players want to settle, there is no active union. The previous union's leadership is adamant that it's gone. And the NFL's legal argument is that the union is still active (the owners can't lockout players if there's no union), so I don't see how the NFL can come to an agreement with a group of players that aren't representing the entire former union.
Law Professor Matt Bodie has written an excellent article on the oral arguments last Friday, and the legal issues involved. If you haven't been reading a lot about the lockout, this isn't the article for you.
But in a nutshell, he makes a great point that if the players are willing to let the antitrust lawsuit wind it's way through the courts, the players could win really big ("no draft, no salary cap, no restrictions whatsoever").
The big problem for the NFL is that the league violates antitrust laws. The owners need the union to avoid this problem. From PrawfsBlawg:
The oral argument was fascinating to me, because it illuminated the jury-rigging that is necessary for modern sports leagues to exist in their current forms. They are clearly collusive, and they clearly dominate their respective industries. So antitrust liability seems to naturally follow. The leagues have escaped this quandry (when it comes to the players) by falling under the nonstatutory labor exemption. But what if the players don't want to play ball, as it were? Brady v. NFL is the result.
Whether it's now or one year from now, the league is going to be forced into giving the players what they want. The players may lose game checks now, but they could get a huge windfall in antitrust damages. All the owners can do is win the PR battle, and hope it pressures all the players into accepting something less. If the owners push this to the end, they are going to lose big.