Since the Jacksonville Jaguars recently acquired Tyron Brackenridgeoff of waivers, I thought now would be as good of a time as any to explain to everyone just how the waiver wire works.
First, the waiver wire is used exclusively for players with less than 4 years of of service to an NFL squad. Once this player is placed on waivers, any team may claim him. If a player is claimed by more than one team, then the team with the worst record is awarded his rights.
This means that a player is retained by a new employer at the exact same contract he signed with his previous employer. This keeps the teams from having to negociate new contracts with players when they are released. It also helps the teams because there are frequently players who are cut that have ability, the lower your win-loss ratio, the better your chance of nabbing these players.
Players with four or more accured seasons in the NFL are exempt from the waiver system. They immediately become free agents upon release.