Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Waiver Wire Rules

Todd had a great question that I felt I should address in a bit more detail. About a month back, I did a piece called Dibbs! Not it! that talked about the huge advantage in picking up talent the Lions have by being first in line on the "waiver wire".

In a teensie weensie oversight, I forgot to explain what the waiver wire is, and the rules. This site sums it up best, and I will quote it almost verbatim here:

"First, the waiver wire is used exclusively for players with less than 4 years of of service to an NFL squad. Once this player is placed on waivers, any team may claim him. If a player is claimed by more than one team, then the team with the worst record is awarded his rights.

This means that a player is retained by a new employer at the exact same contract he signed with his previous employer. This keeps the teams from having to negotiate new contracts with players when they are released. It also helps the teams because there are frequently players who are cut that have ability, the lower your win-loss ratio, the better your chance of nabbing these players.

Players with four or more accrued seasons in the NFL are exempt from the waiver system. They immediately become free agents upon release.

-Collin Streetman"

There is no limit to the number of times a player can be cut and picked up by other teams, or sometimes the same team multiple times. Since the Lions went 0-16, they get first choice on all players with less than 4 credited years who are released until such time as a team wins fewer games than them.

Players like Jansen and Foote have vested status in the league, so are UFA (Unrestricted Free Agents) when they are released. Since the CBA was allowed to expire, starting in 2010 there is no salary cap (at this point) and the number of credited years to become an UFA goes to 6 years.

This means that, unless a new CBA is negotiated and it is changed, starting next league year (2010) all players with less than 6 years who are cut will hit the waiver wire.

Look for the bottom of the Lions' roster to continue churning like Houghton Lake in a summer storm. What Mayhew has been doing is bringing in everyone/anyone who is worth a look at positions where there is less depth than the Lions would like, less talent, or the players competing need to be pushed. As some positions solidify a bit (or someone they brought in is ruled out of camp or the final roster) they cut bait and move on.

For example, with Jansen signed to compete with Salaam for backup swing tackle, Foster was superfluous, and thus cut. he wasn't beating out Cherilus -- and he didn't have much chance of beating out Loper, Cook, Jansen and Salaam to make it through camp and onto the roster, so they cut him.

Another intriguing cut was Jon Bradley. Since they will keep two FB and only have two (Smith and Felton) this tells me that they knew which two FB were going to be on the roster -- and now that their roster spots are "there" they will let them compete to see who gets to start. Smith is the better blocker, but Felton is the better runner/pass catcher. It should be a heated battle and I expect both to be used extensively when the season gets in motion.

If the Lions sign another FB off the waiver or FA stack at this point, it either means an injury or they feel that Smith and Felton need to be pushed more again. At this point, they must be happy with the effort of both.

I'll get more into each position grouping, and highlight different competitions as we move through the early summer.

Thanks for the kind words, and yes -- it is great to be back!


spacecataz said...

Glad to see that you're back, DLF!

Great post, btw. I had a basic understanding of the waiver wire, but I've learned some new stuff - notably that the contract stays intact.

The amount of flux on this roster is revealing about where it stood at the end of last season. Many have said it was in bad shape talent wise, but the number of FA's and waiver pick-ups being brought in certainly cements that conclusion. At this point, I expect several surprise (at least to us!) cuts happening at the end of camp -- especially players who were on the roster last year.

Anonymous said...

Man, thanks! I figured if there was one bonehead who should be in the cross-hairs, it's me! My draft picks weren't close, either.

Thanks for posting the waiver wire rules, the research is great.

Sorry to hear that Birk is gone; where is he going? I saw "U of M", but is that for a paper in Ann Arbor, or the "U" as a web writer?

Once we get closer to camp we can break down positions, but it's clear to see that a lot of the cuts are in areas of "philosophical differences". And you will continue to see that. The faster, lighter...are being cut for bigger and MORE STOUT. On offense, you will actually see them (FB, TE) look for better hands.

Jon Bradley is a terrific story and it's sad to see him go. But he is a converted DT that was a blocker. NOT a great hands guy to run a flair route. Felton is BIG, but was a HB who carried the ball a lot in college. He has good hands. The offensive scheme that Linehan uses involves the TE's and FB's a lot more.

You will also see a different type of CB. What is being described is more of a cover-corner as the OLB's and DE's are wider (in their set, not their asses) and force (pinch) all the action back towards the middle. Because of this, guys like Smith and Robinson (who are smallish) may actually look a little better. We already know they can come up and stick (they had to previously), so we'll see.

Isphet said...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder!

nubs said...

Post #2 was me.

Todd said...

Thanks DetFan. That was exactly what I needed. In my own defense I was actually pretty right in what I thought, that it only pertained to players with little years accrued but I was not aware of keeping the contract etc. I don't have a link but I'm fairly sure more than once Jansen was mentioned in the press in articles how we continue to take advantage of our waiver position. I knew that couldn't be the case with a 10yr vet.
Nonetheless happy he chose to come home and push our oline. I also keep reading that he is a big locker room leader. Schwartz already added Peterson and Foote on the defenseive side who I read our lockerroom guys, its nice to see some guys that can come in and help some of the younger players overcome that stigma of 0-16.

DF79, can't wait to see a piece you write as well as everyone here's opinions on how this oline thing is going to shake out. I keep seeing people say, including Killer today, that it could move Backus to guard and Gosder to left tackle so jansen and salaam can fight for right tackle. While I agree with the school of thought that jansen and salaam can't play left tackle, I don't see gosder being able to move to left so I see a log jam at right tackle. I'd hypothesize one of those 3 making the switch to right guard over backus to left guard, if a rt to rg transition is feasible.

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