NFL Waiver Order explained as The Jacksonville Jaguars waive RB Leonard Fournette following months of tension between him and the team.
It was clear for almost the whole offseason that Fournette wouldn’t be in Jacksonville this year.
The team declined to pick up the 5th year option on his contract and have been looking for a trade for months. However, head coach Doug Marrone explained they were unable to get any real value for him on the market.
Today, the Jaguars announced that they waived their former 4th overall pick.
#Jaguars are releasing RB Leonard Fournette, source says.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 31, 2020
We have waived RB Leonard Fournette.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 31, 2020
How Do Waivers Work in the NFL?
Any player who has less than 4 years of service in the NFL will be subject to the waiver process when they are released. This is why Fournette, who has only been in the league for 3 years, was “waived” and not simply cut.
There is, however, a exception to this rule: once the season starts and the trade deadline passes, any player who is released is subject to waivers.
Once the player is released, they will be on waivers for the next 24 hours. In this period, any team can claim that player’s contract and they will become a member of that team.
On the flip side, if no teams claim the player within a day, then the player has cleared waivers and becomes an unrestricted free agent. Consequently, they may proceed to join any team of their choice.
Waivers do work a little differently during final roster cuts though. Every year, NFL teams are required to make their final roster cuts before 4pm New York time on the Saturday before the season starts. (This year the deadline is on Saturday, September 5th).
Teams will trim their rosters from 90 players to just 53, meaning that almost 1200 players are cut around the league. All non-veteran players who are cut either on Friday or Saturday on cutdown weekend will remain on waivers until 12 noon on Sunday.
The Waiver Priority Order
The waiver process raises the question: what if multiple teams claim the same player? In this situation, the team highest up on the priority order will get the player.
Right now, the priority order is nothing the but the 2020 draft order. For example, if the Bengals and the 49ers both claim Fournette, the Bengals will receive him because they had a higher draft pick.
Essentially, the idea is to give teams who performed poorly a competitive advantage. Just as it does in the draft, this helps keep the league balanced.
For the same reason, the priority order will change after week 3 of the regular season. At this point, the teams will placed in order of their record, worst to best. So, the team with the worst record will be first in the order.