By 3:00 PM Central time on Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings (as well as 31 less important National Football League franchises) will have to reduce their rosters from 90 players to 53. There was a cutdown date in-between the third and fourth preseason game, but the league decided to reduce it to just one cutdown day starting this season.
When it comes to the roster reduction process, there is a difference between a team waiving a player and a team releasing a player. A lot of the players that will be losing their jobs over the next couple of days will be waived as opposed to released. Let’s go over the differences here.
When a team releases a player with less than four seasons of NFL experience, that player is being waived by the team. That means that they are subject to the waiver process, where there is a hierarchy of priority that determines which team gets a player that has been claimed. As of now, and through Week 3 of the regular season, that waiver priority is based on last year’s record. So, the Vikings would be 14th on the current waiver priority list. That means they can claim a player that has been waived, but if any of the 13 teams that are above them on the hierarchy claim the same player, that team will get the player instead.
The waiver priority list also works differently than it does in your fantasy football league. In fantasy football, if a team claims a player, they drop to the bottom of the list. It doesn’t work that way in the NFL. As of now, the Cleveland Browns are the #1 team on the waiver priority list, and that’s where they’ll stay until after Week 3 of the regular season. That means if the Browns put waiver claims on 20 different players, they’ll get every single one of them and the other 31 teams are out of luck. Of course, they would then have to waive or release players to make room on the roster for the once they had just claimed. (I don’t think any team is going to actually claim 20 players. . .I’m just saying if they did, that’s how it would work.)
Players with more than four years of NFL experience, on the other hand, are not subject to the waiver process. If a team cuts such a player, we say they have been released and not waived. That player immediately becomes a free agent and can sign with any team they wish any time they’d like.
You can bet that we will be keeping an eye on all of the Minnesota Vikings’ roster cuts, as we do every year, and we will be bringing the news to you as it comes through. We’ll go over practice squad rules in a different post.