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What we know - and what we think - of Su'a Cravens' situation with the Redskins

What we know - and what we think - of Su'a Cravens' situation with the Redskins

After a promising rookie campaign in 2016, Su'a Cravens seemed poised for a breakout season in 2017. He switched positions, going from inside linebacker to safety, and momentum was on his side during training camp in Richmond. 

Things quickly fell apart, however, as Cravens sustained a knee injury in the first preseason game. A procedure on his knee cost him the remainder of camp and the preseason, and then things got worse. Cravens was moved to the Reserved/Left Squad list before the Week 2 game against Los Angeles, ending his 2017 season without playing a snap. 

Much has been said and rumored about Cravens' NFL future. In an attempt to clarify, let's look at what is known and what is believed to be true. 

  • Known - Cravens applied for reinstatement from the reserved/left squad list.
  • Believed - Cravens wants to play in the NFL again, as soon as this fall. There was some question if Cravens wanted to play football again.
  • Known - Cravens got treatment and was cleared from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for head injuries in December. 
  • Believed - Cravens dealt with concussions his rookie season and was still dealing with after effects. Dr. Michael Collins at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is one of the foremost concussion doctors in the world; he wouldn't have cleared Cravens unless there was something wrong. 
  • Known - Cravens has three years left on his rookie contract as the 2017 season "tolled" toward his contract status, meaning the year never counted towards his four-year deal. 
  • Believed - There is a question if Cravens would be welcomed back in the Redskins locker room. From numerous conversations with people close to the situation, he would. A number of players stayed in touch with the young safety throughout his year off the team, and understand the circumstances surrounding his absence. If he would be welcomed back by the full coaching staff and all members of the front office might be a different story.

So what does it all mean? 

It's hard to see a scenario where Cravens comes back to play for the Redskins. The decision to end Cravens' 2017 season by placing him on the reserved/left squad list while he was dealing with injury and personal turmoil still lingers, and some inside the organization still can't understand Cravens' request for some mental health time. 

Cravens will have a trade market, especially with three years remaining on a team-friendly rookie deal. The Redskins must understand they won't get dollar-for-dollar value in a trade, as Cravens was a second-round pick in 2016. 

The Redskins need help all over their roster, and maybe it would make sense to try and move Cravens for another player rather than draft help. Denver is reportedly looking to move Emmanuel Sanders, and maybe the two sides could work a deal. That might not materialize, but Washington needs to look at creative options in moving the former USC star.

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Chris Thompson expects Kirk Cousins to go get 'every single dollar he wants'

Chris Thompson expects Kirk Cousins to go get 'every single dollar he wants'

When asked if he wanted to stay with the Redskins over the last three seasons, Kirk Cousins always did a good job of saying the right things without ever really committing to Washington. 

On Wednesday, former Washington tight end turned radio broadcaster Chris Cooley asked Redskins running back Chris Thompson the same question: Did Cousins want to come back?

Thompson answered, honestly, after a long pause. 

"I think everybody got some mixed messages, I will say that," Thompson told Cooley, speaking on The Team 980 (click here for full audio). 

At his year-end radio interview on 106.7 the Fan, Cousins was asked about his desire to return to the Redskins. The quarterback said that "the short answer is yes" but that the longer answer was much more complicated. He certainly never came out and declared he wanted to return, unequivocally, like fellow free agent Drew Brees came out and said about returning to New Orleans. 

If the answers seemed vague to media and fans, the same thing can be said about Redskins players. 

"It’s kind of hard to say," Thompson said. "I think everybody got a different feel about it, but I know Kirk enjoyed being with me and I enjoyed being with him, so I wanted him to be here and I think part of him wanted to be here, but at the end of the day, you gotta do whatever you think is best for you and your family."

It's also important to point out that Cousins has been smart and savvy throughout his contract dealings with the Redskins, and his tone when asked about the future was likely part of that thinking. 

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS OR CHIEFS BAIL ON SMITH DEAL?

Now, after two years playing under a franchise tag in Washington, it appears Cousins will head to free agency and get to pick his next team. 

"I know Kirk is going to go somewhere and get every single dollar he wants. I think he deserves it," Thompson said. "He’s put up some great numbers year in and year out, so that’s what this league is all about, the numbers."

Thompson also made clear he enjoyed playing with Cousins and that the quarterback talked about how good their pairing could be in the future.

"I know for me, talking to Kirk, being with Kirk, all we talked about was, you know, ‘C.T., with you staying healthy, we can do this with you, we can do that with you,’ and we were able to do a lot of the things that Kirk wanted to do with me. We wanted to continue this, so for me, I expected him to be here. I knew it would be hard given that we want to win, but if you pay a guy [$30 million] a year, it’s going to sacrifice some other things as well, as far as helping our defense out, maybe getting some more receivers, or running backs and all those type of things."

Still rehabbing from a broken leg sustained in a November loss to the Saints but expected to make a full recovery, Thompson said he's excited to play this fall with Alex Smith. 

"I’m excited about Alex coming in and being here if everything stays the way that it’s supposed to be through March," Thompson said. "He’s an athletic guy. I hear he’s a really great guy, a good leader, too, so I’m just excited for the opportunity."

(h/t @ScottSAllen/Washington Post)

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One possible tag and trade scenario for Redskins and Kirk Cousins

One possible tag and trade scenario for Redskins and Kirk Cousins

A tag and trade seems very unlikely. Let’s be clear on that.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen either.

As reports emerged over Super Bowl weekend that the Redskins are exploring the possibility of tagging Kirk Cousins in an attempt to trade him, many people dismissed the idea.

After acquiring Alex Smith via trade, and getting a contract extension locked up, it’s obvious Washington will make a change at QB in 2018.

RELATED: REDSKINS ARE FALLING BEHIND IN NFC EAST

It’s not as obvious that Cousins will get his ultimate wish: true free agency.

Here’s one scenario to consider, and know this is just speculation.

Cleveland owns the top pick in the NFL Draft along with the 4th overall pick. On top of that, the Browns have three 2nd-round picks.

Plenty of people expect the Browns to be interested in Kirk Cousins. They don’t have a good quarterback and haven’t for some time.

Cousins would give the Browns stability at QB like the folks in Cleveland haven’t seen since Bernie Kosar 30 years ago.

And, if you listen to what Cousins has said in the past, signing with the Browns should not even be close to an option.

Repeatedly, over and over, Cousins has said his free agency decision will not be just about money.

Well, if it’s not about money, Cleveland has to be the least desirable spot in the NFL. The Browns have exactly one win in the last two seasons. 1-31.

With a good draft and smart free agent signings, they could get better, and quick. But what’s better?

Winning five games in 2018 would be a huge step for the Browns, but a big step back for Cousins or any QB that wants to be competing at the highest levels.

Considering all that, the Browns might know they won’t get Cousins in free agency. 

RELATED: WHY THE REDSKINS WON'T DRAFT EARLY

And if Cleveland wants Cousins, they could use one of their surplus second-round picks and get him in their organization.

The Browns have a mountain of salary cap space, more than $110 million, and could take on the $34 million price tag for Cousins on a 2018 franchise tag.

As soon as Kirk arrives, the Browns would have until mid-July to work towards a long-term deal. Maybe with an impressive draft haul and an organization that believes in him, Cousins would sign long-term?

In Washington, its been clear for some time that Cousins’ priority was getting to free agency. Maybe with a fresh start elsewhere, that could change.

Or maybe it won’t matter.

If Cousins won’t sign a multi-year deal in 2018, the Browns could then use the transition tag on the QB in 2019.

That would carry an absurd $41 million price tag, but then Kirk could shop his skills around, and the Browns could match any offer sheet from another team. It might not be true unfettered free agency, but it's a first cousin.

There are plenty of reasons why this won’t work - insane salaries, Cousins reluctance to help the Redskins and hurt his future team, the sheer difficulty of attempting this sort of salary cap jiu-jitsu - but a similar scenario could unfold with other teams too.

The Jets have more than $70 million available to spend, no quarterback and a reported growing interest in Cousins. New York also has an extra second-round pick to dangle should trade talks actually take place. 

Remember this though: Nick Foles’ playoff performance will put him high on the trade radar around the league. Super Bowl MVPs don’t ride the bench, and Foles won’t be doing that in 2018.

RELATED: DID WE LIKE THAT?

Maybe Cleveland would rather move on Foles, who is under contract in 2018 at a crazy reasonable $6 million.

Maybe Cleveland wants a rookie QB to mold. There are plenty of good candidates, especially at the top of the draft where they hold two of the first four picks.

And the Browns did just add former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan to their scouting staff for the upcoming draft. McCloughan has been clear in his opinions about Cousins: the QB is good but not good enough to overpay.

The tag and trade will be very tough for the Redskins to pull off, and it will require Cousins to play ball and sign the tag. It’s quite possible he won’t, which would set up a WILD showdown.

The scenario to actually pull off this trade seems about as plausible as the casino heist in Ocean's Eleven, but every once in a while, life is stranger than fiction.   

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!