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As investigation continues, what are Bills' options with LeSean McCoy?

Police in Georgia offered no new updates Monday on the investigation into the home invasion and assault of LeSean McCoy’s ex-girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, last week.

That means with 10 days remaining until the Buffalo Bills start training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, it’s still unclear if their star running back will be with them. McCoy and the team have been silent since issuing statements a week ago, when he was accused of domestic, child and animal abuse by a friend of Cordon in an explosive social media post.

The NFL has also been silent since issuing a short statement to say the league was reviewing the matter. All of that leads to a great deal of uncertainty surrounding McCoy’s status. There are three simple options for the team. The first would be to do nothing, which would mean McCoy would be on the practice field starting next week.

The second would be releasing him before training camp, although that seems highly unlikely.

The third, at least in the short term, could be the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List, which is best described as a form of paid leave. Here’s the official definition, from the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual:

“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.”

There are two circumstances under which a player may be placed on paid administrative leave.

According to the league’s personal conduct policy update in 2016, they are:

“First, when a player is formally charged with a crime of violence, meaning that he is accused of having used physical force or a weapon to injure or threaten another person, of having engaged in a sexual assault by force or a sexual assault of a person who was incapable of giving consent, of having engaged in other conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety or well-being of another person, or of having engaged in animal abuse. The formal charges may be in the form of an indictment by a grand jury, the filing of charges by a prosecutor, or an arraignment in a criminal court.

“Second, when an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that a player may have violated this Policy by committing any of the conduct identified above, he may act where the circumstances warrant doing so. This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that would apply in a criminal trial.”

Players placed on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List are required to remain away from all team activities. It was most notably used in 2014, when the Minnesota Vikings placed running back Adrian Peterson on it following child abuse charges. That same day, the Carolina Panthers placed defensive end Greg Hardy on the list following charges of domestic abuse.

Peterson remained on the list for nine weeks before being suspended without pay for the final six games of the 2014 season. He pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor reckless assault for what the NFL called "an incident of abusive discipline" toward his 4-year-old son. Hardy spent all but one game of the 2014 season on the exempt list, then was given a 10-game suspension by the league the following year, which was later reduced to four games.

It’s important to remember that the NFL’s personal conduct policy does not require a criminal conviction to discipline players.

The policy, which was first implemented in 1997 and enhanced in 2007, was strengthened again prior to the start of the 2015 season. It calls for a baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving “assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”

A key part reads: “Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL. We must endeavor at all times to be people of high character; we must show respect for others inside and outside our workplace; and we must strive to conduct ourselves in ways that favorably reflect on ourselves, our teams, the communities we represent, and the NFL.”

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