According to multiple people within the organization, the two sides did hold a discussion about a potential return. Cravens’s agent, Fadde Mikhail, met with Eric Schaffer, the Redskins’ senior vice president of football operations/general counsel, in California on Saturday to discuss Cravens’s intentions.
Mikhail relayed that Cravens wanted to return this week, but Schaffer explained further discussions needed to take place and that they would revisit the situation after the weekend. Two people familiar with the situation said no plan or agreement was reached in that meeting.
Cravens attended the USC-Texas game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum later Saturday, so he could cheer on his former Trojans teammates. While on the sidelines, he ran into Redskins senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams, who attended the game to scout prospects. Multiple people refuted weekend reports that Cravens and Williams spent the evening together discussing the safety’s status with the team, with one noting the two spoke for less than 15 minutes, discussing life and family.
Mikhail on Saturday seemed to indicate an end to the saga when he tweeted an image of Williams and Cravens standing near each other, and typed, “Su’a hanging out with Doug Williams. The end.”
During their talk, Cravens said he was doing well and getting his life together, but at no point did the two lay out plans for Cravens to return to the team. “The end” Mikhail alluded to was premature.
On Sunday Cravens did not return to the Coliseum, site of Washington’s Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Rams, to support his Redskins teammates as he had the Trojans. Washington players, and others within the organization, took note.
After meetings on Monday, team officials decided it was in the best interest of all parties involved if they placed Cravens on the reserve/left squad list, ending his 2017 season. Although the Cravens camp expressed a desire to return to team headquarters Tuesday, Redskins brass remained unconvinced all of his personal and health issues had been resolved.
The Redskins believed a year break – complete with the team-based medical (both mental and physical) benefits still available to him while on the reserve list – would afford Cravens adequate time to resolve all of the issues that led to his abrupt retirement.
At the time of Cravens’s retirement announcement over Labor Day weekend, team officials figured Cravens was just deeply upset over a family matter and that after a couple of days, he would want to return. When he did not, and still sent contradicting messages about his commitment to the game, they surmised more serious issues still needed to be resolved. They remained convinced of that on Monday, when they placed Cravens on the reserve list.
Redskins officials also believed it would take more than just a couple weeks away from the team for Cravens to work his way back into the good graces of his teammates, a number of which privately remained offended by his decision to walk away from the team just before the start of the season. And so, despite two safeties having suffered injuries in Sunday’s game against the Rams, the Redskins agreed to officially end Cravens’s season.
It’s believed that move surprised and upset the Cravens camp. But a league source said, according to his knowledge, the Redskins were not guilty of any wrongdoing, and that they were within their rights to place Cravens on the reserve list to give him further time to deal with his personal life and consider whether he wants to truly commit to the game long-term. Because Cravens has now twice walked away from the team (late last season and again this year), the Redskins want to be sure such an incident wouldn’t happen again.
The team’s decision to place Cravens on the reserve list could lead to hurt feelings on Cravens’s part and fuel a desire to start fresh with another team. But the Redskins have done what they can, at least publicly to express support for the player.
One league source said it’s believed Cravens still is dealing with a medical issue that’s not related to his knee surgery, and that the issue ranked among several factors – family issues being another – that prompted him to retire. The source said that if Cravens is indeed still suffering from some medical issue, the Redskins were smart to give the player more time to resolve that rather than bringing him back and hoping it would go away.
Coach Jay Gruden recently said he still sees the 2016 second-round pick as a quality person and player and knows he still loves the game. But the coach also said he understands Cravens has other issues in his life he must tend to before resuming his playing career.
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