Over the next couple of days, NFL teams will trim their roster to 53 players, resulting in a flurry of transactions. It’s a tough time for players and teams, and it can be a bit confusing to the average fan. There are a bunch of rules and stipulations that make this such a tedious process. So we’re here to help.
Consider this post a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the 2022 NFL roster cuts.
Let’s get started.
Tuesday, August 30 — 4 p.m. ET — Every team must have their roster down to 53 players.
Additionally, this is the deadline to place any player currently on active/PUP or active/NFI on reserve/PUP or reserve/NFI, meaning they will miss at least the first four games of the season. If they are not moved to the reserve list, they are considered “active” players on the 53-man roster with no injury designation—or a team can cut them. Reminder: No player may be moved to the reserve/PUP or NFI list if they are not already on the active/PUP or NFI.
Wednesday, August 31 — Noon ET — Teams must have their waiver claims in for players waived in the cutdown from 80 to 53.
Around noon, teams will be notified if they were awarded any players off waiver. Once those notices are sent out, teams can start to sign players to their 16-man practice squad.
Wednesday, August 31 — 4 p.m. ET — Teams can start to place players on their 53-man roster on IR with an eligibility to return after a minimum of four games. Any player placed on IR before this deadline will be lost for the entire season.
This is important for the Detroit Lions because it means if they plan on placing players like Levi Onwuzurike, Julian Okwara or Ifeatu Melifonwu on IR but want them back later this year, they’ll not only have to make the 53-man roster, but they’ll have to stick on the roster through the first round of waiver claims as well.
Waiver wire rules
Waived vs. Released
When a player is cut, they are either “waived” or “released.” A player with four accrued seasons is “released,” meaning their contract is terminated and they are a free agent that can sign anywhere immediately. A player with less than four accrued seasons is “waived,” meaning their contract stays intact until they go through the waiver wire process.
Waiver claim process
A waived player can be claimed by any other team looking for players. There is a time period in which any team that wants a waived player submits a claim. At the end of the claim period—Noon ET on Wednesday in this case—the team with the highest waiver priority gets the player and his contract. If a player is not claimed in that window, their contract is terminated and they are free to sign anywhere.
Waiver wire priority
Waiver wire priority is determined by last year’s standings—or the 2022 NFL Draft order prior to any trades. So for the Detroit Lions, they have the second-highest waiver priority. That means, if the Lions put in a claim for a player, they will receive that player, as long as the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 1 priority) did not put in a claim for that player. No matter how many claims the Lions make, they will maintain the No. 2 waiver priority until after Week 3, when the waiver wire order will be decided by the 2022 record.
Once a team is awarded a player, they must decide on a corresponding move to make room for him—assuming there is not already a roster spot open—by 4 p.m. ET that day.
Practice squad rules
Under newly-adopted rules, teams can now build a 16-man practice squad.
In short, every single free agent is eligible to sign to a team’s practice squad. However, there are limits on certain kinds of players, depending on each player’s experience. Here’s a look at those types of players, and the maximum of each type allowed on the 16-man roster.
- Players with an unlimited amount of experience: 6 players maximum
- Players with two or fewer accrued seasons: 10 players maximum
- Players with no accrued seasons or were active less than 9 games in one season: 16 players maximum
Additionally, the combination of players in the first two categories may not exceed 10. In other words, on a full 16-man practice squad, at least six of your players must have zero accrued seasons or one accrued season with fewer than nine active games