clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How the NFL waiver wire works

New, comments
NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL calendar has reached the 53-man roster deadline, with all 32 teams having spent Friday and Saturday making moves to cut their roster sizes. Teams used to cut from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday of the final week, and then down to 53 on Saturday. This year, they removed the first cut, so now, teams are cutting from near 90 players to 53 at that final cut.

NFL rules dictate teams must reduce their rosters to 53 players no later than 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. That means a lot of talented players will suddenly become available. The new rule removing the 75 man cut means upwards of 1,100 players were released between the final preseason game and the Saturday afternoon deadline.

The Dolphins have a fairly solid roster, with some star players throughout many of the position, but they also have enough questions on their roster that they will likely have some interest in players that are released. The primary method of acquiring players this weekend is the waiver process.

When a team releases a player with less than four years of service, they are subject to the waiver process. Normally when a player is released, waivers runs the next day. For roster cuts, all players run through waivers on Sunday, whether they were released on Friday or Saturday.

The process involves a priority list ranking teams for claiming players. From the first day of the league year until the conclusion of Week 3 of the 2017 regular season, the priority is based on draft order. This means that the Cleveland Browns are the No. 1 team on the waiver priority list, while the 49ers are No. 2 and so on. This means that if the Dolphins want to take a shot on a young player, they have to put a claim in on him, and then cross their fingers and hope that the 21 teams ahead of them in the waiver order do not put in a claim.

You might be used to the waiver process in your fantasy football league. The NFL waiver process is different in that the No. 1 team can claim as many players from waivers as they want, and they retain priority. The Browns essentially get first dibs on every player. They will stay in that position through Week 3 of the regular season.

Any player with at least four years of service that is released is not subject to the waiver process. They became free agents at 4pm ET today and can sign with any team.

We’ll be keeping an eye on roster cuts over the next day. The 53-man rosters will be reached by then, but then there will be further turnover as teams make waiver claims.