The Cincinnati Bengals are working frantically to get their 53-man roster and practice squad set this weekend. Here's a look at everything you'll need to keep up with the madness.
When is the cut deadline?
All 32 NFL teams are required to be at the 53-man limit by today, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at 4:00 PM EST.
Will that Bengals roster be the one we see Week 1 against the Raiders?
It's more probable than not (H/T to Ted Wells).The Bengals will likely tweak their roster throughout the days leading up to the Week 1 opener in Oakland and then throughout the season with injuries, players coming off PUP, free agent additions and other changes to the open market.
As for the roster after today's 4 p.m. deadline, that depends on cuts around the league. The Bengals may look to claim a player on waivers they're fond of, and subsequently release one of the players who originally made the team in order to make room for him. There's also the possibility of a trade being made before or after the final roster is set.
What about the practice squad?
Here are more details on the practice squad. For a quick rundown, just know that the Bengals can sign up to 10 players to a practice squad that doesn't count against the 53-man roster. These 10 players are usually younger, less experienced players who have rarely, if ever, actually appeared in a regular-season game.
In order to get to the practice squad, a player must clear waivers. After he clears waivers, he becomes a free agent, and then can sign with the practice squad. Remember that players on the practice squad can be signed by any other team at any time. A team that does sign a practice squad player from another team must keep him on their active roster for at least three weeks. The Bengals signed Nico Johnson off the Chiefs practice squad last year, and he ended up playing in 11 games (2 starts) at middle linebacker.
Teams can start to form their practice squad after 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday, Sept. 6.
What is the NFL waiver wire and how does it work?
You'll find a full breakdown of the NFL waiver wire here. The big detail you need to know is that, when a player is cut and has less than four years of service time, he is placed on waivers. All 31 other teams can place a claim on the player and add him to their 53-man roster.
If the player goes unclaimed through waivers, they become an unrestricted free agent. The waiver wire order is the same as the 2015 NFL Draft order, so the Bengals will have the 21st pick, while the Buccaneers will have the 1st shot at everyone.