After the trading deadline, every player who is released by a team must pass through waivers, no matter how many years of service the player has.
As applied to Tuesday’s surprise decision by the Eagles to cut defensive end Jason Babin, it means that the other 31 teams will have dibs, based on the current waiver priority.
NFL spokesman Randall Liu has tweeted the top 12 on the priority list: 1. Chiefs; 2. Jaguars; 3. Eagles; 4. Raiders; 5. Browns; 6. Panthers, 7. Chargers; 8. Bills; 9. Titans; 10. Lions; 11. Cardinals; and 12. Jets.
Babin, who entered the league in 2004 as a first-round pick of the Texans, will draw the interest of teams with 4-3 defenses that may be looking for a relatively inexpensive pass-rushing punch. Though he had only 5.5 sacks this year, which possibly was fueled by a calf injury that caused him to miss most of training camp and the preseason, Babin has shown that he can get after quarterbacks — especially via the “wide nine” defensive line formation.
Last year, the first of his second tour with the Eagles, Babin had 18.0 sacks.
Of the teams in the top 12 of the waiver priority list, the Browns stand out out because Babin was signed by the Eagles when Cleveland CEO Joe Banner served as president in Philly. If, however, there were reasons unrelated to performance that prompted the decision to part ways prematurely with Babin, Banner likely will be privy to that info. (That said, the Eagles would be wise to not say anything to discourage any team from taking Babin’s contract off their hands; if he’s claimed, they avoid $1.69 million in potential termination pay.)
The Lions use the “wide nine,” and Detroit currently faces the departure of Cliff Avril via free agency. With plenty of other Lions due to become free agents, it could sense to pick up Babin under a deal that pays $4.325 million in 2013, $6.175 million in 2014, and $6.15 million in 2014.
The fact that Babin’s primary experience comes as a 4-3 defensive end doesn’t rule out 3-4 teams, where Babin would be converted to an outside linebacker.
And even though some of the better teams could be eyeballing Babin as a valuable addition for the stretch run, Babin’s contract could be a prudent investment for bad teams that are trying to become competitive via proven veterans who are reasonably-priced.
For the Eagles, the decision will result in a $900,000 cap charge in 2013, based on Babin’s $1.5 million signing bonus. It’s a relatively small amount for a franchise that could shed $30 million from the books next year by cutting Mike Vick and Nnamdi Asomugha.