NFL Waiver Wire Rules
When a player is cut, depending on their years of service and the timing of the transaction a few different things can happen.
Unvested Players (players without 4 years of accrued service)
The waiver system allows for a team to claim a player that was released from a previous team. From the day after the Super Bowl and until the end of the 3rd week (Monday 9/24), the waiver wire priority is based on the previous year’s records/draft order.
When an unvested player is claimed, it removes the guaranteed base salaries from the previous team’s salary cap, and it gives the new franchise his rights/current contract.
Until 9/25, the Jaguars are 28th on the list in waiver claim priority. After that, the claiming priority is based on the inverse order of the standing of clubs in the current season’s games. So, next week, if the Jaguars are the only 3-0 team standing, they would pick 32nd.
Lets say the Browns win a game and the Giants, Bills, Cards all lose again, they would move ahead of Cleveland starting the 25th.
If a player goes unclaimed, he becomes a free agent and free to sign a contract with any NFL team.
Until the trading deadline (10-31), a vested veteran — a player who has acquired four accrued seasons– is not subject to the waiver system. If such a player is cut, his contract is immediately terminated. He is then be free to sign with any other team.
Once the trade date passes after week 8 (10-31), any player has to pass through waivers. Every player has to pass through waivers. If an unvested player passes through waivers then the team can place them on the practice squad, if they meet the eligibility requirements.
Waiver wire periods last 24 hours before the player becomes a free agent.