The story of Su’a Cravens has been a strange one. Drafted in the second round of the 2016 Players Draft, his rookie year was adequate and the Skins were hoping he would evolve into a dependable starter for them. He suffered a concussion in the team’s Week 4 win over the Cleveland Browns that left him sidelined for two weeks, an incident we are now learning may have been much more serious than anyone knew. He then suffered a biceps injury in Week 14 that caused him to miss the final three games of the year. His rookie campaign ended with unremarkable numbers; 23 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception.
The real drama started just before the inception of the 2017 season. Cravens suffered a knee injury in the preseason that resulted in him undergoing arthroscopic surgery. It was expected that he would be sufficiently recovered to start Game 1, but that was not to be. He stunned the team by announcing his plans to retire just after they finished the final roster cuts, leaving his compatriots in a terrible lurch and scrambling to figure out how they would adjust the remaining personnel. The front office talked him out of retirement and instead suggested that he take a month off to deal with family issues and think things over, only to then announce that he as being put on the Reserve/Left Squad list before allowing the allotted time to elapse. It was a bizarre series of events. Given the Redskins’ terrible handling of other recent issues, most notably the disastrous way the firing of Scot McCloughan had just been handled, it was difficult to tell which side was the driving force behind the inexplicable decisions being made.
Cravens has been out of the spotlight since he made an appearance at a USC game the same weekend the Redskins were in town to play the LA Rams. There was great consternation among Redskins Nation that he attended the game at his alma mater and then neglected to show up for his own team’s game in the same city the following day. It was immediately following this slight that the Skins put an abrupt end to his season.
Fast forward to this week. On Wednesday, Cravens’ agent announced that he has been “medically cleared” to return to football activities and is looking forward to playing again in 2018. This was news to everyone, as the stated reason for his absence was to work through personal and family issues. He now states that he was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, a condition the Mayo Clinic describes as “a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion”. The obvious question is whether this condition resulted from his Week 4 concussion last year, and if it did, why didn’t he say so? If his absence were medical, he would be due his salary and would have been getting paid all year. Why the ambiguity and mysterious excuses? Something just doesn’t make sense with the situation.
This is the latest chapter in an odd saga. The Redskins now have to decide if they will allow Cravens to rejoin the team going into next year or if they want to trade him. They control his fate entirely and could even just keep him sidelined again if they choose to do so. They club had high hopes for him going into the season, but if they decide to bring him back, there will certainly be some anger and resentment to deal with among the other players. The Skins will have to determine if his potential upside is worth the distraction his presence is likely to cause.