Looming prosecution, possible paid leave will put McCoy, Bills in a tough spot


Before the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson cases of 2014, NFL players who faced criminal charges typically continued to show up for work while prosecution was pending. Except in rare cases (like Mike Vick’s dogfighting and gambling indictment of 2007, which sparked an indefinite suspension without pay), the league took no action until the court proceedings had ended.

The notorious Ray Rice video, followed four days later by the child-abuse allegations against Peterson and amid the then-lingering domestic violence case against Hardy, prompted the NFL to find a way to get Peterson and Hardy off the field without suspending them. They both agreed to be placed on paid leave at a time when they otherwise were free men who were presumed innocent.

In December 2014, the NFL codified the availability of paid leave for any players facing criminal charges. It’s a vague, discretionary process that the league uses in some cases and not in others, with no clear rules or formulas for invoking it.

As to Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who is expected to be charged with aggravated assault in Philadelphia, the league won’t be using paid leave during the portion of the calendar in which all players are on unpaid leave. At some point, however, the players will return — and the wheels of justice often grind slowly. If McCoy chooses to fight the case through trial, he could miss all of the 2016 season, but with pay.

The alternative would be to resolve the charges with a plea deal. The prosecutors will know that McCoy needs to get the case behind him in order to play, which means they’d potentially drive a harder bargain.

If McCoy pleads guilty to anything before the start of the 2016 season, he’ll then face an unpaid suspension for a baseline of six games, which can be increased or decreased based on a variety of factors.

From the team’s perspective, there’s no good solution. Already, $2.5 million of McCoy’s base salary is fully guaranteed for 2016. The remaining $2.3 million becomes fully guaranteed on March 9. A suspension would void the guarantees, and it also would allow the Bills to recover a portion of his signing bonus. Paid leave would have no impact on the guaranteed money; even if they cut McCoy now or while he’s on paid leave, they’ll still owe him the money. (That said, cutting him now would avoid the extra $2.3 million guaranteed.)

For McCoy, the question becomes whether it’s more important to play in 2016 or to maximize his earnings. He could get all of his money for 2016 but then face an unpaid suspension in 2017, if he’s convicted in the next offseason. Or he could plead guilty sooner than later and lose a large chunk of his 2016 pay after being suspended by the league.

Few will shed tears for McCoy, based on videos that seem to show him participating in an assault. Regardless, the league’s post-Rice protocols will put McCoy in a much more delicate spot than he would have been before 2014, when players who were facing charges typically played while the charges were pending, no questions asked.

42 responses to “Looming prosecution, possible paid leave will put McCoy, Bills in a tough spot

  1. He’s a hell of a RB but even before this it was pretty hard to like him as a Bills fan. If they could just void his contract and move on I’d be all for it…we could use the cap space. Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

  2. this jsut goes to show that chip kelley was right all along! personally i dont like him much as a coach, i think hes tryin to do to much inovation instead of bein old school, and also the being a atheist thing, but he did keep riley cooper who was unfairly released if u ask me, so really itll come down to weather he cuts colin kappernick for me to think hes a good coach. sorry but u cant have a qb whod rather get tats then win titles

    as for mccoy thats what happens when u sign a guy whos nickname is literaly ‘shady’. put em in jail and throw away the key. dont let sam bradford throw it tho cause itll be intercepted

  3. Bills fan here. I want this team to win more than just about anything and have all my life. If this is all true, I don’t care if they cut him.

  4. In a situation where few people doubt the innocence of McCoy, Goodell should get strong support to give him the maximum penalty allowed with as little benefit possible. IMO public opinion would not favor providing a criminal suspect with extensive paid leave.

  5. League needs to be able to allow through a morality clause teams to be able to have an exit of contract with no financial compensation when a player is involved in illegal actions.

    To give him paid leave is crazy!

    He screwed his team and teammates so now screw him

  6. Come on Slim….didn’t your Ma or Pa ever tell you that nothing good happens when your out after 3am?? You of all people should understand this. There’s been the “bad top incident”, the “ladies only VIP orgy party”, the “bus incident”….I could go on…but I think we get the point…if you don’t have a game/practice to get to, stay in your damn house! You’re clearly not fit to be out in public regardless of the time of day!

  7. I have no idea if the kid is guilty or innocent I will tell you this in some professions ( mine included) an incident like this would cost you your current job

    Some employees cannot to have an employee (right or wrong) representing their brand
    Life isn’t fair but if I were Bills I’d cut his butt simply because his talent not worth the headache

  8. A public apology, offer to pay the medical bills, and any time missed would probably go a long way in putting this behind him. I’m sure a couple of those officers liked McCoy at one point.

    But that’s not McCoy. He’s always been defiant when he’s done wrong.

  9. Unfortunate incidents seem to keep following McCoy around.

    He obviously has very bad luck …… being, you know, always completely innocent of the accusations against him.

  10. Chip Kelly sucks. He was not right just lucky in retrospect. SF will be crap for the next decade.

  11. He is not going to be cut and he is not going to serve any jail time. Suspension will be anywhere from 0-6 games, depending on how his lawyers do in court

  12. lscottman3
    Feb 12, 2016, 10:48 PM EST
    Well we know what Godell will do next…

    Punish the patriots


    Please let it go! It’s not about the Patriots. You probably conspiracy in food ads in Boston which don’t have fish on sale as an attack on the Patriots

    Please go see someone and get on the couch but let it go already.

  13. Godell and his idiot co-conspirators have me convinced that the Ray Rice beating videotape definitely was delivered and viewed at 345 Park ave.

    The changing punishment guidelines go with the wind.

  14. Why should Patriot fans let it go? The Pats have been railroaded for years and it is Buffalo fans among others who continue to fan the fires at every turn. When all these loser fan bases apologize for supporting the egomaniac Goodell. Then we will let it go!

  15. Even if Kelly knew McCoy was a bad guy, he still made a mistake in overpaying Murray. I’m not suggesting that Kelly is a bad coach or didn’t make the right move with McCoy. He did make a bad move in signing Murray and he lost the locker room.

  16. Good time to get out of that ill advised contract, cut him. He’s good but not worth the headaches. He showed some flashes this year but seemed to come up small in every big situation.

  17. Pats fans Tom Brady cheated…you think we don’t think that anymore? Please…just because Goodell didn’t prove it in a court of law designed to put the burden of proof on the prosecutor in order to keep innocent people out of jail?

    Please…the court of public opinion already saw the case and Tom is guilty. Oj walked free too…big deal.

  18. The fact that they’re taking their time filing charges means that they want to be sure their case is airtight. They’re going to try to nail McCoy to the jailhouse floor.

  19. Something tells me those cops are gangsters in uniform. $1200 a bottle for Champagne, 4 bottles? I’ve been in barroom brawls and was dismissed from jury duty because of it. No one knows what happened in them, and the tape showed nothing but confusion. He could have been out of it when it rolled over to him and he protected himself. Everyone is swinging when it moves near them. He should suffer because the clubs security couldn’t control the placer?

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