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How the NFL waiver wire works

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Here’s how the NFL waiver wire works and how it will affect the Denver Broncos.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos wrapped up their preseason schedule on Thursday with a 30-2 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and now begins the two-day process of cutting down to the 53-man roster.

Teams used to cut from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday of the final week, and then down to 53 on Saturday. This year, they removed the first cut, so now teams are cutting from near 90 players to 53 at that one and final cut.

NFL rules dictate teams must reduce their rosters to 53 players no later than 2 p.m. MT on Saturday. That means a lot of talent will be available over the next 72 hours. The new rule removing the 75-man cut means upward of 1,100 players are going to be released between the final preseason game and the Saturday afternoon deadline.

The Broncos actually have quite a solid roster, but there are areas of concern at a few key positions. They will likely be looking at some offensive linemen and possibly defensive linemen.

There is also the question of backup quarterbacks to consider. Despite Kyle Sloter’s impressive preseason, the odds are still stacked against him toward locking up a backup slot while Paxton Lynch is injured.

When a team releases a player with less than four years of service, the players are subject to the waiver process. Normally when a player is released, waivers run the next day. For roster cuts, all players run through waivers on Sunday, whether they were released on Friday or Saturday.

The process involves a priority list ranking teams for claiming players. From the first day of the league year until the conclusion of Week 3 of the 2017 regular season, the priority is based on draft order. This means that the Cleveland Browns are the No. 1 team on the waiver priority list, the 49ers are No. 2, and so on until the Broncos come in at No. 20. This means the Broncos will have to wait over a lot of teams to get a player they are interested in.

You might be used to the waiver process in your fantasy football league. The NFL waiver process is different in that the No. 1 team can claim as many players from waivers as it wants, and it retains priority. The Browns essentially get first dibs on every player and will stay in that position through Week 3 of the regular season.

Players with at least four years of service who are released are not subject to the waiver process. They immediately become free agents and can sign with any team. That means T.J. Ward, if cut, would be free to sign anywhere without being subject to a waiver process.

We’ll be keeping an eye on roster cuts over the next day. The 53-man rosters will be reached by then, but then there will be further turnover as teams make waiver claims.

H/T to David Fucillo of Niners Nation for helping me gather much of this information.