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Around the Horns: Adrian Peterson process reaches league, union level

Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:

Based on the timeframe laid out in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, Adrian Peterson should have an decision about his status no later than the end of next week. The CBA dictates that when the NFL Players Association files a non-injury grievance (as it did on Peterson's behalf Monday), an arbitrator will hear the grievance within seven days and reach a decision within five days of the hearing, adding that "the NFLPA and the NFL will engage in good faith efforts to schedule grievances involving suspension of a player by a Club prior to the Club's next scheduled game." That means while a decision could be reached before the Vikings face the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Peterson should at least know where he stands before the team's Nov. 23 game against the Green Bay Packers.

It's possible, though, that the outcome of all this is a suspension for Peterson under the league's personal conduct policy -- and it's becoming increasingly clear the league didn't regard Peterson's eight-game stint on the commissioner's exempt list as discipline, since he was getting paid through that time. In a statement the league released on Monday after the NFLPA announced its grievance, the NFL said, "We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved."

Pro Football Talk published a copy of the letter outlining Peterson's placement on the exempt list, which stated, "The player agrees that, effective as of yesterday (September 17, 2014), he is placed on the Commissioner-Exempt list with full pay until the criminal charges currently pending against him are adjudicated." There's no explicit statement, however, about what would happen to Peterson once his case is resolved, and while the NFLPA can accuse the league of failing to uphold the terms implied in the agreement, its claim that the grievance is based on "explicit language in a signed agreement dated September 18, 2014," doesn't appear to be completely airtight.

The upshot of all this is that Peterson's status is still very much in doubt. He could find his way back onto the field while the league weighs its disciplinary options, only to get suspended at a later date, or he could end the process with a clear path to return to the Vikings after paying back some of the money he earned on the exempt list (though that idea, while popular, would still have to be negotiated). If the NFL is guilty of dragging its feet in the days after Peterson's Nov. 4 plea bargain, however, it appears the league has a little wiggle room to do so.

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