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Cap Classroom: Your waiver questions answered

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Friday I provided a brief overview of the waiver system for the NFL, as the Bruce Irvin situation brought to light the fact that some fans are unfamiliar with the machinations of waivers. I didn’t expect the piece to lead to so many follow up questions about the particulars of waivers, but since there were a lot of really good questions asked in the comments section, I’m going to address them in a separate piece.

The first question is one that I answered in the comments, so for those who read the comments, well, you may be rereading this one and the answer.

Do the waivers reset after a player is claimed?

Let’s say 2 guys get released the same week and the Giants claim both of them. They will obviously win one for sure as they have the top spot, but once they are awarded the first do they then drop to the bottom of the waiver priority list? Basically is my fantasy football waiver claim policy the same as the NFL?

I have long been under the impression that, yes, the waiver positions reset after a team is awarded a player. However, researching this has brought up contradictory answers, so I am going to have to reach out to some contacts and see if I can get a definitive answer. While waivers are covered in the CBA, the CBA only describes which players are subject to waivers and not how the waiver system actually works, and the NFL’s page on the subject on its website does not answer this specific question either.

I had always believed that if the Giants claimed two players, the player on whom they have a higher priority waiver claim they would obviously be awarded, and they would then slide to the back of the line at 32. Thus, they would only get both claimed players if none of the other 32 teams put in a claim on the second player. However, it appears as though I may have been incorrect on this. I’ll provide an update on this when I hear back from the contacts I have reached out to, however, at this point I’m going to operate under the assumption that they do not reset, and that if the Giants claim two players, they’ll get both players.

With termination pay, is it fully guaranteed from the original team even if he is cut, goes unclaimed, and then resigns with another team?

Specifically, if a player has a $10 million salary for the current year from team A, gets cut halfway through the season, and he clears waivers. Let’s say he then signs with team B as a free agent for $1 million for the remaining half of the season.

How much does he get paid total? Is it:

A) The remaining $5M termination pay from team A, and the $1M from team B?

B) Only $4M from team A, and $1M from team B (team B is picking up some of his salary, so he only gets the termination pay from team A that he is missing)?

C) Something else?

With termination pay, it is fully guaranteed and so the player gets paid both the termination pay and their salary from the new team. So, for example, in Bruce Irvin’s case he will receive his unpaid base salary from the Oakland Raiders for the final 8 weeks of the season, and he will also receive his regular paycheck from the Atlanta Falcons each week from now through the end of the year.

Now, a player has the ability to waive this provision in their contract and make their termination pay subject to offsets, but that is a piece that comes down to negotiations between the team and the player’s agent. Termination pay does not typically apply to players on their initial rookie contract, since the majority of players will not become vested veterans during the course of their rookie contract. It is possible, such as in the case of Josh Gordon, who due to suspensions has been in the league since 2012 and earned enough credited seasons to gain his vesting, however, he has not played out his rookie contract due to suspension issues.

In all seriousness, Professor Gilbert, I have a question.

Are the waiver rules the same in the off-season? If so, how are the teams ranked for waiver priority? By the previous season standings?

During the offseason, and through training camp and the first three weeks of the regular season, waiver priority is based off how the teams finished the prior season. So, for example, when the Seahawks were awarded running back Mike Davis off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the Hawks’ waiver positioning would have been based on the 2016 final standings.