The Vikings and Panthers both were able to take the heat out of the proverbial kitchen, thanks to the little-used Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list. It allowed the teams to nudge off the roster a couple of key players with pending legal issues, without having to cut or trade them.
Cutting Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy would have put the Vikings and Panthers, respectively, on the hook for the balance of their eight-figure salaries, given the Termination Pay provision of he labor deal. Deactivating them on a weekly basis left the teams with, as a practical matter, only 52 players on the roster. Also, it required the teams to allow the players to come to practice and, in theory, attend games.
“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances,” the NFL’s Player Personnel Manual provides. “The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.”
Some other teams are griping about a device that essentially allows the Vikings and Panthers to carry 54 players on their rosters.
“It was really put in place for players coming off suspension to get reacclimated,” one league source told PFT regarding the exemption.
The reality is that today’s unique utilization of the exemption will soon not be. For players facing criminal charges under circumstances that result in a significant amount of fan, media, and/or sponsor pressure, this specific exemption could become the wave of the future.