When a player contract is terminated, he is either free to negotiate and with a team at any time or subject to waivers.
When released, a contract for a player with fewer than four credited seasons is subject to waivers at all times. The waiver system allows teams to place a claim on a player contract before that player becomes a free agent. The team with the highest priority will be awarded the player.
A contract for a player with four or more credited seasons is not subject to waivers when released from the day after the Super Bowl through the trade deadline. After this date and outside of this period, the contract must be placed on waivers and can be claimed by another team.