The Cardinals claimed linebacker Tanner Vallejo off waivers on Tuesday, getting a player that several other teams wanted — and showing the value of having the first pick in the waiver order.
During the offseason, the waiver order is the same as the draft order, so the Cardinals, holding the first overall pick, also have the first choice of any player waived by any other team. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, a lot of other teams wanted Vallejo: The Jets, Giants, Bengals, Vikings and Chargers all put in waiver claims on Vallejo.
The types of players who go on waivers aren’t usually great players, but they’re often talented young players who come with cheap salaries. Vallejo is 24 years old, good enough that he’s been able to play in 28 games so far in his career, and under contract at very affordable salaries of $645,000 this year and $735,000 next year, with nothing guaranteed. Players like that strengthen the bottom of the roster, and when the Cardinals go into camp, their 90-man roster should have plenty of players they got off waivers that other teams wanted, too.
The Cardinals will keep the first waiver claim throughout the offseason, into training camp and the preseason, and to the start of the regular season. If they make smart moves with waiver claims, they’ve got a significant edge over the rest of the league.