Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens told some within the organization this weekend that he is planning to retire, but a meeting with the team's coaches and executives has changed his mind for now, according to league sources.
Cravens, 22, who was nursing a knee injury, was put on the team's exempt/left squad list later Sunday. His roster spot was taken by offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, who was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings.
Cravens must sit out for a month, at which point the Redskins will have to make a decision about his status.
Cravens informed the other defensive backs in a group chat Saturday night that he was going to retire and then exited the session by saying "Peace out," a source said. They were upset with him and what they heard.
Cravens is one of the league's youngest players, a second-round pick last year, and he is struggling with his transition to the NFL. Washington officials want to help him through his issues rather than have him walk away from the game, which would make him one of the youngest NFL players to date to retire.
One person who played with Cravens in the past and considers him a friend said he was not surprised when he heard the news Sunday. He added that you never know if a player loves the game until he faces adversity.
Cravens' only comment came via a post to his Instagram story later Sunday evening that read, "Thank you to those who showed their true colors today. Both positively in support and negatively in misunderstanding and frustration. Either way my response is the same to both groups, I love ya! and thank ya! God Bless."
An article on SI.com this spring stated that Cravens left teammates wondering about his desire when he didn't push through harder with a bruised biceps injury. In training camp, linebacker Will Compton was miked for CSN Washington and was heard prodding Cravens about his motivation for being on the field. Compton told him, "I haven't felt it from you. The last two [practices], you haven't gave me anything."
Compton wanted to know what helped him push through the tough part of camp, and Cravens later told him, "I can't fake it, though."
Washington did not respond to questions about the safety.
"Shocking," Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said upon hearing the news. "He has to handle what he needs to handle, whether mental or with his family. We're here to support him. That's tough. I'm not in those shoes, so I can't speak on him, so whatever he's dealing with I'm praying for him, and hopefully he'll be back.
"If it's family issues, personal issues, whatever he's dealing with, I'm supportive. Hopefully he'll deal with what he has to deal with and be back out here."
Linebacker Mason Foster said he was surprised by the news.
"Definitely. He's a great player, a great person," Foster said. "People have lives outside of football, and sometimes you have to handle that first. Hopefully he gets that resolved and comes back and helps us win games this year. I'll try to talk to him later on, tell him I'm praying for him, but I'm going straight to the iPad and watching Philly."
"You never know what's in anyone's life, so you make sure that's fine first and foremost before you get back to your job," Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said.
"This game tests your wits in every form, every facet of your body, your mentals. Everything. If you're not ready to come back and play and give it your all, and your heart isn't in it, then you'll seriously go out there and get hurt."
After practice, multiple players said coach Jay Gruden addressed the players about Cravens' situation and said to stay focused on the season opener when discussing it with the media. Gruden did not address the media Sunday but will do so Tuesday.
Several days ago, a source close to Cravens said he was anxious to return from his injury and he was confident he'd be ready for the opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. The past few weeks, there had been some unease in the building about Cravens' missed time and what the team could expect from him. Indeed, the Washington Post reported that he had been talking to some members of the coaching staff about retiring the past few weeks.