In the National Football League, the term "waived" refers to cutting a player from the team with four seasons or less experience. The term "released" refers to cutting a veteran with more than four years accrued experience.
Once the player is waived from the roster, he is immediately placed on the "waiver wire," a chain of the of 32 teams ordered from worst to best based on the previous season's finish. The player is first eligible to be signed by the worst team, followed by the second-worst club, all the way down the line until he is signed. When the player goes through the entire wire unclaimed, he becomes a free agent and may sign with anyone, the same status a "released" player is granted.