Plenty of players who lose their current jobs in the coming days will be placed on waivers. Plenty of others won’t.
The key factor is length of service. Any player with three or fewer years of services must pass through waivers. If another team claims his contract, that’s where he goes.
Any player with four or more years of service (i.e., a “vested veteran” like former Browns cornerback Joe Haden) becomes a free agent immediately, able to join any other team he wants.
That distinction lasts until the trade deadline. After that, all players who are released must pass through waivers.
For many of the veterans whose names have emerged and will emerge as possible candidates to be traded over the next few days, the trade chatter may be a precursor to being cut. All vested veteran have the ability under the CBA to take their full salary, without offset, as termination pay if they are released at any point after the regular season begins. This dynamic routinely results in plenty of them being released before the season starts.
Some of the vested veterans will avoid being cut by taking less money. And, of course, they’ll be more inclined to take less money when they get a late-August ultimatum because, at this point, it’s typically difficult to find a better deal elsewhere.