With hundreds of athletes going from NFL player to unemployed on Saturday, there's quite a bit of talent going through the waiver wire today. While some players get cut because they're not able to play at the level demanded in the NFL, others simply aren't the right fit for the team they were with or are casualties of teams having overwhelming depth at a position.
While many fans wanted the Bengals to sign players like DeShawn Williams and Troy Hill to their 53-man roster, neither made the cut. And while the hope is both end up back on the Bengals' practice squad, this is the time when another team can swoop in and sign players like Hill, Williams and other rookies with big upsides to their 53-man roster. Here's how the waiver wire works and what to expect today.
What is the waiver wire?
The waiver wire is a system that uses the same order as the draft order that year to allow each NFL team the chance to claim a player who was cut in the previous 24 hours.
Who is eligible for waivers?
A player with less than four years of NFL experience is considered waived when their team cuts them. The majority of players cut this weekend have less than four years in the NFL, so the options are plentiful. Of the Bengals cuts, the following players are eligible for the waiver wire: QB Keith Wenning, WR Jake Kumerow, WR Michael Bennett, G Dan France, CB Troy Hill, G Trey Hopkins, TE Matt Lengel, K Tom Obarski, OT Matthew O'Donnell, S Floyd Raven Sr., LB Trevor Roach, C Jake Smith, HB Terrell Watson, HB James Wilder Jr., and DT DeShawn Williams.
What is the waiver wire order?
The waiver wire order is the same as the draft order from that season. The team with the worst record in the league has the top priority while the team with the best has the lowest.The Bengals are 21st on the waiver wire (they had the 21st pick in the draft) and all teams ahead of them have the opportunity to sign players on the waiver wire before them.
Note: Three weeks into the 2015 season, the waiver wire order changes to the order of the NFL standings at that time. But prior to the season, it's the initial 2015 draft order.
What happens when a player isn't claimed by anyone?
When a player goes unclaimed on the waiver wire, they become a free agent. For many players cut by the Bengals on Saturday, if they pass through waivers unclaimed the Bengals will look to sign them to their practice squad, which can be created as of 1:00 p.m. EST today. It's more likely than not that a majority of the players signed to the Bengals' practice squad will be players the team cut yesterday.
Here's an example
The Bengals cut undrafted rookie Jake Kumerow yesterday. As a rookie, he is added to the waiver wire. Every team in the NFL has the opportunity to sign him off the waiver wire before Sunday's 12 p.m. EST deadline. The priority order goes from last year's weakest team to last year's strongest team. If a team puts a claim in on Kumerow, they get him and take on his current contract. If more than one team is interested in him, the team with the higher waiver wire priority would have the rights to add him to their 53-man roster.
Which former Bengals can other teams claim?
It's possible that rookies who have impressed in the preseason like Williams, Hill and Kumerow could be signed to another team today. If they aren't, look for those three names to be among the Bengals' practice squad roster.
The Bengals can claim other teams' former players
Just as other teams may claim former Bengals, the Bengals may look to build depth at some of their weaker positions by claiming a player from another team. Be on the lookout for the Bengals to consider some of the available players on the waiver wire and the current free agent market, which consists of players with four or more years of NFL experience who weren't subject to being waived.