What are NFL Waivers in Football?
The waiver system in football is a system of roster management in which players can be 'waived' (released) by a team. The waiver system is designed to give struggling teams a fair chance of signing players by preventing bidding wars for a recently released player's services.
The NFL Waiver System
When a player is let go either in the offseason or during the regular season, there is a 24-hour period immediately following the player's release in which other teams can claim the player. Once claimed by a team, the player is added to the roster and paid a salary equivalent to the money being made prior to his release.
If multiple teams claim a player on waivers, the NFL must defer to a priority order. Similar to the NFL draft, the teams with the worst regular season records during the previous season are given first priority while the best teams from a season ago generally have a slim chance of landing a highly coveted player on waivers. For example, if the Arizona Cardinals (3-13 in 2018) and New Orleans Saints (13-3 in 2018) both claim a wide receiver on waivers, the Cardinals ultimately get the player. The priority order is designed to give poor teams a chance to improve, as more successful teams are generally more attractive to a player and giving the player full control over which team he'd prefer to sign with would only strengthen already solid teams and widen the gap.