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2020 NFL roster cuts: How does the waiver wire work and what does it mean for the Patriots?

Related: Patriots 53-man roster: How the team looks like after cutdown day

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots, as part of their roster cutdowns, parted ways with 24 total players ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Not all cuts are the same, however, as the NFL differentiates between veterans and less experienced players: if a player has less than four accrued seasons — more on that in a moment — on his résumé, he will not hit the open market right away but instead has to go through the waiver wire.

So, what exactly does this mean? Let’s find out.

How does the NFL’s waiver wire work?

The waiver wire allows teams to submit claims for some qualifying players that have previously been cut by other teams. Organizations usually have 24 hours to submit claims but this window is shorter over the NFL’s cutdown weekend: With final cuts taking place at 4 pm ET yesterday, teams only have until 12 pm today to submit claims to a players rights. If a player gets claimed, he joins a team’s 53-man active roster — meaning that the team will need to have an open spot on its active team, or otherwise create one.

Who is placed on waivers?

As noted above, players with less than four accrued seasons need to pass through the waiver wire in order to hit “regular” unrestricted free agency. The NFL defines an accrued season as six or more games on either a team’s 53-man roster, or on injured reserve, or on the physically unable to perform list. All qualifying players released yesterday have hit the waiver wire and are subject to being claimed by other teams.

What’s the waiver claim order?

For the first three weeks of the season, teams submit claims based on the draft order. The worst team in the league last year is the first able to put in a claim, with the Patriots coming in at number 23 after departing last year’s playoffs on wild card weekend.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals
  2. Washington Football Team
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. New York Giants
  5. Miami Dolphins
  6. Los Angeles Chargers
  7. Carolina Panthers
  8. Arizona Cardinals
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars
  10. Cleveland Browns
  11. New York Jets
  12. Las Vegas Raiders
  13. Indianapolis Colts
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  15. Denver Broncos
  16. Atlanta Falcons
  17. Dallas Cowboys
  18. Pittsburgh Steelers
  19. Chicago Bears
  20. Los Angeles Rams
  21. Philadelphia Eagles
  22. Buffalo Bills
  23. New England Patriots
  24. New Orleans Saints
  25. Minnesota Vikings
  26. Houston Texans
  27. Seattle Seahawks
  28. Baltimore Ravens
  29. Tennessee Titans
  30. Green Bay Packers
  31. San Francisco 49ers
  32. Kansas City Chiefs

A player gets awarded to a team based on the ranking: If the Bengals and the Patriots, for example, are the only teams to submit a claim for a player, he joins Cincinnati given the team’s higher ranking.

After the third week of the regular season, the waiver claim order will be changed based on the standings at that point and adapted weekly throughout the rest of the season until the draft order is set after the Super Bowl.

Which Patriots have hit the waiver wire?

The following is a list of the 21 ex-Patriots who are now subject to waivers:

WR Andre Baccellia

TE/LB Rashod Berry

LB Tashawn Bower

OL Ben Braden

CB Myles Bryant

TE Jake Burt

C Tyler Gauthier

LB Terez Hall

LB De’Jon Harris

TE Paul Butler

LB Cassh Maluia

DT Bill Murray

QB Brian Lewerke

TE Paul Quessenberry

K Justin Rohrwasser

CB D’Angelo Ross

WR Devin Ross

RB J.J. Taylor

WR Jeff Thomas

DT Nick Thurman

WR Isaiah Zuber

Over the previous three Labor Day weekends, New England saw 11 players claimed off waivers by organizations around the league. Practice squads, meanwhile, became the destination for the majority who were not picked up.

Which Patriots have not hit the waiver wire?

Those with more than four accrued seasons will not have to go through the waiver system. In New England’s case, there are four vested veterans who were released on Saturday:

K Nick Folk

RB Lamar Miller

DT Xavier Williams

All three players listed above are now cleared to catch on with another team — or potentially with the Patriots again.