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NFL roster cuts 2017: How the waiver wire works

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Everything you need to know about the NFL’s waiver wire heading into final roster cuts.

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

All 32 NFL teams have begun making roster moves in light of the September 2, 2017 deadline to have rosters trimmed to 53 players.

Most of the players being cut in the coming days are subject to waivers, meaning that 31 other teams will have the chance to claim them, but there’s a lot more complexity to how this works.

With so much happening, here is a refresher on how the waiver wire operates.

Who is eligible to go through the waiver wire?

When a team releases a player with less than four years of service, he is subject to the waiver wire process. Any player with less than four years of NFL experience is subject to the waiver process upon release from their former NFL team.

What is the waiver wire?

The NFL’s waiver wire is a system that allows teams to submit a claim for a player who was cut by another team. The waiver wire operates on a 24-hour timeframe during which teams can submit a claim following a player being cut.

When a team releases a player with less than four years of service, they are subject to the waiver process. Any player with at four or more years of service who is cut is not subject to the waiver process. Players with four or more years of NFL experience immediately become free agents and can sign with any NFL team of their choosing (that’s also interested in them).

However, during the NFL season from the NFL trading deadline through the end of the regular season, vested veterans are also subject to the waiver process. That means any veterans cut after Week 8, which is October 31 this year, will go through waivers along with non-vested veterans. (A vester veteran is a player with four or more years of NFL experience.)

Normally when a player is released, waivers run the next day. For roster cuts, all players run through waivers on Sunday, whether they were released on Friday or Saturday.

Waiver Wire Order:

During the offseason, the waiver wire order is the same as the draft order. After Week 3 of the regular season, the order turns to the standings around the league as the team with the worst record gets first priority on the waiver wire and the team with the best record gets last priority.

For now, the Bengals are ninth on the waiver wire (they had the ninth pick in the draft) and all teams ahead of them have the opportunity to claim players on the waiver wire before them.

Last year, the Bengals claimed cornerback KeiVarae Russell off waivers after the Kansas City Chiefs released him. Cincinnati also claimed quarterback Jeff Driskel off waivers after the San Francisco 49ers released him.

Waiver Wire Order Heading into 2017 NFL Season

OVERALL TEAM
OVERALL TEAM
1 Cleveland
2 San Francisco
3 Chicago
4 Jacksonville
5 Los Angeles Rams
6 New York Jets
7 Los Angeles Chargers
8 Carolina
9 Cincinnati
10 Buffalo
11 New Orleans
12 Philadelphia
13 Arizona
14 Minnesota
15 Indianapolis
16 Baltimore
17 Washington
18 Tennessee
19 Tampa Bay
20 Denver
21 Detroit
22 Miami
23 New York Giants
24 Oakland
25 Houston
26 Seattle
27 Kansas City
28 Dallas
29 Green Bay
30 Pittsburgh
31 Atlanta
32 New England

Which Bengals are eligible for waivers?

A player with less than four years of NFL experience is considered waived when cut from an NFL team. The majority of players cut this weekend have less than four years of experience in the NFL. Of the Bengals who could be cut on Saturday, here is a look at some of the players subject to waivers:

  • DL Marcus Hardison
  • LB P.J. Dawson
  • RB Jarveon Williams
  • LB Brandon Bell
  • LB Hardy Nickerson
  • OG J.J. Dielman
  • S Brandon Wilson
  • DT DeShawn Williams
  • DE Will Clarke
  • OT Kent Perkins
  • FB Darrin Laufasa
  • TE Cethan Carter
  • S Demetrious Cox
  • DE Ryan Brown
  • RB Tra Carson
  • DT David Dean
  • CB Tony McRae
  • WR Alonzo Russell

This group of players, with the exception of Will Clarke, could also be in the running for a spot on the practice squad, but only if they clear waivers without being claimed by another team. Expect most of these guys to clear waivers and be able to sign with the Bengals’ practice squad, if that’s something both sides want.

What happens when a player isn't claimed by anyone?

When a player goes unclaimed on the waiver wire, he becomes a free agent. If a player cut by the Bengals passes through waivers unclaimed, Cincinnati could sign said player to the practice squad. However, said player may also sign with any other team’s practice squad. All practice squad eligible players must go through waivers.

The practice squad can be created as of 1:00 p.m. ET on September 3, 2017.

Click here to read the NFL’s full breakdown of the waiver wire.