ASHBURN — Redskins safety Su’a Cravens has been placed on the exempt/left squad list amid reports he has been considering retirement.
Cravens, Washington’s second-round pick in 2016, injured his knee in the team’s preseason opener against Baltimore, and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery the following week, but was expected back for the regular season opener against Philadelphia.
According to NFL rules, players with a “left squad” exemption may sit out at least four weeks. After that period, the Redskins must proceed with Cravens in one of the following ways: release him, trade him, activate him to their 53-man roster, request Roger Goodell add him to the commissioner’s exempt list or put him on the reserve/left squad list.
The final option would mean Cravens misses the entire season.
As of publication, a request for comment from Cravens’ camp has not been returned.
Players were briefed by head coach Jay Gruden before leaving practice Sunday. Gruden was scheduled to address reporters following the practice session, but that plan was changed shortly before the story broke. He will speak next on Tuesday.
Cravens’ teammates did speak in the locker room and expressed a combination of concern and frustration.
“It’s shocking, but it is what it is,” said free safety D.J. Swearinger. “He’s got to handle what he needs to handle, whether it’s mental, whether it’s family. We’re here to support him, but that’s something tough. I’m not in those shoes so I can’t speak on it. I’m praying for him and hope he’ll be back.”
“We’re here focused on getting ready for Philly. It’s time to roll now,” said Mason Foster, who, along with Will Compton, helped mentor Cravens when he played linebacker last season. “I’m here for him, ya know support him, whatever – that’s one of my good friends – but at the same time, we gotta work.”
“You never know what’s happening in someone’s life, so you gotta make sure that’s fine first and foremost before you get back to your job,” added cornerback Josh Norman. “That’s like anyone in regular life.”
Questions about Cravens’ desire to play football have been present since last season. While no players spoke directly to a lack of desire from Cravens, they were asked about attempting to play in the NFL without a driving passion.
“This game tests your wits in every form and every facet of your body and mentals and everything,” said Norman. “If you’re not ready to come back and play and give it your all, and your heart isn’t in it, then you’re seriously going to go out there and get hurt. And I mean, like, seriously hurt, because this isn’t a child’s play sport. This is a grown man’s sport where grown men are colliding into each other and it can be deadly.”
During training camp, Compton questioned Cravens motivation in an exchange captured while the linebacker was mic’d up by CSN-Mid Atlantic.
Cravens and Compton go back-and-forth about Cravens not being a part of the wolfpack (the wolfpack is an oft-referenced group including Compton, Foster, Trent Murphy and others).
Compton concludes the clip by saying, “When you start talking about pack first, that’s when I know you’re (expletive) ready.”
A source told 106.7 The Fan that Cravens went missing for a day and a half last season while he was injured, and had to be called by the team into the facility.
Cravens considered retirement during that time away, but it never approached the seriousness of Sunday’s conviction. The source also said there were similar instances of Cravens going AWOL while he was at USC.
Cravens is in the second year of his rookie contract, and could be liable to repay part of his signing bonus if he goes through with retirement.
The decision by Cravens, and the ensuing decision by the team to move him to the exempt list, comes less than 24 hours after the deadline to cut rosters to 53 players.
The Redskins have claimed offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings, a final roster cut by the Vikings this weekend, off waivers, leaving their roster at 53 players.
Second-year player Deshazor Everett will start at strong safety in Cravens’s place.
106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen contributed to this report.