Less than a year ago, Su’a Cravens was one of the most promising players on the Redskins roster. After coming off an impressive rookie season, he was making the switch to safety from linebacker. Pro Football Focus described him as an “emerging elite modern hybrid”. In pass coverage, he yielded a passer rating of just 73.1, good for fourth among inside linebackers. Though in 2016 Washington’s inside linebackers struggled, Cravens led them in run stop %. The sky was the limit with Cravens.
Since then one of the oddest stories, even by Washington standards, occurred, causing Cravens’ value to plummet.
Just before the Redskins season opener, Cravens’ announced his “retirement” in a group chat with his fellow defensive backs. Gruden then confirmed the story, saying that Cravens would be taking time off to focus on personal issues. Bruce Allen placed him on the team’s exempt list, and he did not take a snap last season. He was reinstated by the league in February, but it was clear that Cravens would not be returning to Washington.
On Wednesday, Cravens along with Washington’s 4th and 5th round picks (113th and 149th) was traded to Denver in exchange for Denver’s 4th and 5th round selections (109th, 142nd, 163rd) and a conditional 6th round pick in 2019.
Both teams can leave this deal satisfied.
Washington obviously did not want ‘ tenure in Washington to end this way. Just two years ago they spent a second-round pick on the USC alum. Just a year ago, he was one of the key parts of the defense’s future. Unfortunately, that would not be the case.
Cravens made it clear he wanted to play elsewhere and the fact Bruce Allen got anything in return was somewhat astounding. Given that the Redskins dealt their 3rd round pick away in the Alex Smith trade, stockpiling as many picks as possible was imperative.
While Denver does take on some risk with Cravens, the upside is immense and the risk is minimal. If Cravens does not take a snap for them, Denver at worst they gave up a 5th round pick and moved back a few slots on day 3. If Cravens does stay focused, Denver acquired a young talented and versatile member of their secondary.
Simply put, he is a terrific football player. Cravens has terrific instincts and has a nose for the football. In the passing game, he makes great plays on the ball. If you only saw Cravens on the field, there would not be a question as to whether he truly loves football.
While both participants in the trade have come out stronger, the biggest winner is Su’a Cravens. Denver will allow him to have a fresh start on a skilled defense. Hopefully, he can put his tumultuous past behind him.