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NFL cuts 2018: Explaining how the waiver wire works and the current order

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

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

All 32 NFL teams have begun to make roster moves in light of the September 1, 2018, 4:00 p.m. ET 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 those guys and add them to their rosters. But there’s a lot more complexity to how this works.

With so much happening and guys already starting to move through waivers, here is a refresher on how the NFL waiver wire operates.

Who is eligible to go through the waiver wire?

When an NFL team releases a player who has less than four years of NFL service, he is subject to the waiver wire process. NFL players who are released and have four or more years of accrued time in the league become immediate free agents. Accrued seasons are earned by being on the active 53-man roster for a team for six games in a single regular season, or being on an injury list for six games in a regular season.

During the NFL season, starting from the NFL trading deadline through the end of the regular season, vested veterans (those with 4+ years of experience) are also subject to the waiver process. That means any veterans cut after Week 8 will go through waivers along with non-vested veterans. But for now, only players with three or less years of experience go through waivers.

What is the waiver wire?

The NFL 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.

On roster cut weekend that 24-hour timeframe is abbreviated as teams must submit a 53-man roster to the NFL by 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and then have until 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday to claim players who were waived the day prior.

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

Waiver Wire order

During the offseason and during roster cuts, the waiver wire order is the same as the NFL draft order (not including trades). 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 12th on the waiver wire (they had the 12th pick in the draft before trading it to the Bills) and all teams ahead of them in the waiver wire order have the opportunity to claim players on the waiver wire before them.

In 2016, the Bengals claimed cornerback KeiVarae Russell off waivers after the Kansas City Chiefs released him. Cincinnati also claimed quarterback Jeff Driskel off waivers that year after the San Francisco 49ers released him.

Waiver Wire Order

Order Team
Order Team
1 Cleveland Browns
2 New York Giants
3 Indianapolis Colts
4 Houston Texans
5 Denver Broncos
6 New York Jets
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8 Chicago Bears
9 San Francisco 49ers
10 Oakland Raiders
11 Miami Dolphins
12 Cincinnati Bengals
13 Washington Redskins
14 Green Bay Packers
15 Arizona Cardinals
16 Baltimore Ravens
17 Los Angeles Chargers
18 Seattle Seahawks
19 Dallas Cowboys
20 Detroit Lions
21 Buffalo Bills
22 Kansas City Chiefs
23 Los Angeles Rams
24 Carolina Panthers
25 Tennessee Titans
26 Atlanta Falcons
27 New Orleans Saints
28 Pittsburgh Steelers
29 Jacksonville Jaguars
30 Minnesota Vikings
31 New England Patriots
32 Philadelphia Eagles

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, note not all of these players will be waived. Some will make the 53-man roster.

  • Andrew Brown
  • Auden Tate
  • Brad Lundblade
  • Brandon Bell
  • Brandon Wilson
  • Brian Hill
  • C.J. Goodwin
  • Cethan Carter
  • Chris Okoye
  • Chris Worley
  • Christian Westerman
  • Cody Core
  • Darius Phillips
  • Davontae Harris
  • Devonte Boyd
  • Eddy Wilson
  • Hardy Nickerson
  • Jared Murphy
  • Jarveon Williams
  • Jonathan Brown
  • Jordan Franks
  • Josh Tupou
  • Junior Joseph
  • Justin Murray
  • Ka’Raun White
  • Kayaune Ross
  • KeiVarae Russell
  • Kent Perkins
  • Kermit Whitfield
  • Logan Woodside
  • Mason Schreck
  • Quinton Flowers
  • Simeyon Robinson
  • Tony McRae
  • Trayvon Henderson
  • Trey Hopkins
  • Tyrice Beverette

This group of players 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, those players 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 Sunday, September 2, 2017.