There’s a small, thin, miniscule silver lining for the New Orleans Saints’ ugly 1-2 start. ESPN’s Field Yates shared the updated NFL waiver wire priority on Tuesday, which reflects team records after Week 3 and will be revised accordingly in the weeks ahead. And the Saints are locked in a tie for third after losing two of their first three games.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re tied with seven other teams, including conference rivals like the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and yeah, the Atlanta Falcons. If the Saints file a waiver claim for the same player as one of those other teams, a coin flip will decide the winner.
So what does this mean? Whenever a player is waived from a team’s 53-man roster, every other team will have the opportunity to claim them off the waiver wire and add them to their own 53-man lineup (which bumps another player off the roster). The Saints have already done this a few times, claiming offensive lineman Tanner Owen after he was released by the Buffalo Bills and nearly snagging linebacker Sterling Weatherford, who was claimed by the Chicago Bears. They’ve kept a close eye on the waiver wire early this season.
That’s the gist of it, but as with many things in the NFL it gets more complicated. For one thing, only players with fewer than four accrued seasons are subject to waivers (accrued seasons being years in which they played at least six regular season games), so many of the names on waivers right now and rookies and other younger players.
But wait, there’s more. That changes after the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 1, at which point all players are subject to waivers regardless of experience. The downside is any team claiming them will have to pay the remainder of their base salary, which is why wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. cleared waivers late last season. If they clear the waiver wire, players become free agents and may sign anywhere they like — often at a minimum salary while receiving offsets from the team that cut them.
So there you go. This week, the Saints will be one of the first teams to get a shot at claiming any players cut around the league. Unless one of the other seven teams they’re tied with want that player too, in which case it goes to a coin toss. Let’s hope they find a win this week and we’ll have something better to write home about soon.