Expiration of trade deadline means all released players are subject to waivers

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The passing of the trade deadline has one major impact on the NFL, apart from the inability to, you know, do trades. With the passing of 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday comes a significant change in the status of released players.

Before the trade deadline, any player with four or more years of service becomes a free agent the moment he’s released. After the trade deadline, the player must pass through waivers. If he’s claimed, that’s the team for whom he’ll be playing.

The rule also applies to retired players. If, for example, the Bills were to release the rights to receiver Anquan Boldin (they say they won’t), he’d be eligible to be claimed by the Browns, the 49ers, and so on.

That aspect of the rule applied in a dramatic way 15 years ago, when former NFL cornerback and Hall of Fame frontrunner Deion Sanders wanted to emerge from retirement and play for the Raiders. So Washington released him from the reserve-retired list. And before he could sign with the Raiders, five teams (including the Chargers) made waiver claims.

Why the Chargers? They weren’t contending at the time, but their head coach was Marty Schottenheimer, who had a one-and-done season with Washington in 2001 — and who butted heads with Sanders so hard that Sanders retired.

Regardless of strategy or spite, it’s a tool that all teams now have as to any player who is released, through the end of the season and until the league year resets in March.

7 responses to “Expiration of trade deadline means all released players are subject to waivers

  1. I didn’t not know Deion Sanders got intercepted on a comeback bid by Marty Shottenheimer.

    Learn something everyday.

  2. FYI, Browns front office, just b/c I feel sorry for you, here’s the waiver summary from the operations section of the league site. BTW, that’s NFL.com in case you don’t know…anyway, hope this helps:

    The waiver system allows player contracts or, in certain cases, a club’s NFL rights to a player to be made available by one club to the other clubs in the league.
    The waiver period runs from the first business day after the Super Bowl through the end of the NFL’s regular season. Except in rare incidents, the waiver period lasts 24 hours and all waivers are categorized as “no recall” and “no withdrawal,” which means once a club waives a player, it cannot take the player back or change the player’s status.
    Once a club waives a player, the 31 other clubs either file a claim to obtain him or they waive their chance to do so (thus the origin of the term “waiver”). Clubs are assigned players on a priority basis. From the first business day after the Super Bowl until the day after the third regular season week, assignments are based on a claiming order that is the same as the order in which clubs selected in that year’s Draft. From the beginning of the fourth regular season weekend through the Super Bowl, assignments are based on the inverse order of their win-loss record. For example, a team with fewer wins will be awarded a player off waivers ahead of a team with a better record. If a player passes through waivers unclaimed, he becomes a free agent.

  3. How about changing the rules and allow post deadline trades to be done after a player clears waivers? It happens in baseball all the time. This could allow the Bengals and Browns to try again to trade AJ after yesterday’s fiasco.

  4. Marty Shottenheimer was just like Andy Reid and Marvin Lewis, he completely choked up every playoff game.

  5. willycents says:
    So, does Hoyer have to clear waivers before the Pats can claim him?

    No. It isn’t about when you’re signed, but when you’re released. The waiver rule applies to players released after the deadline. Brian Hoyer is a vested veteran who was released before the trade deadline, therefore he is free to sign with anyone he likes.

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