Carolina Panthers

What is the NFL’s exempt list? What you need to know

The NFL world was reintroduced to the exempt list on Wednesday morning, but what exactly is it?

First, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List, which is essentially paid leave. Later Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers placed defensive end Greg Hardy on the same list.

Perhaps the most famous instance of the league using this list came in 2009, when Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick signed with the team after serving 21 months in federal prison for dog fighting.

Here’s an explainer on the exempt list according to the NFL Player Personnel manual, per NFL.com:

“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. 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.”

Only the commissioner can place players on the list, so technically the Panthers would not be placing Hardy on it. Also, Hardy has the option to accept or challenge his placement on the list. Peterson accepted being placed on the list while he resolves his legal matters.

If Hardy is placed on the list, he will still receive his salary of about $770,000 a week. He would not count against the Panthers’ 53-man roster.

The list has been used a handful of times since Vick. In 2011, Tampa Bay Bucs safety Tanard Jackson was placed on the list for a substance abuse ban. New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma was placed on it in 2012 after Bountygate. Bucs running back Jeff Demps was also placed on it in 2013, according to Deadspin.com.

Jonathan Jones

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