Denver could deploy Cravens in a similar manner as it did with T.J. Ward, Troy Renck of Denver 7 News reports.
For all the accolades the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" has earned in recent seasons, opposing teams have routinely exploited Denver's man-coverage-heavy tendencies by forcing the team's linebackers to play in space versus tight ends and running backs. Cravens, who has the size of a linebacker with a safety's speed, offers an answer. Though the Broncos play more zone nowadays, expect head coach Vance Joseph -- a Wade Phillips disciple -- to use Cravens in a similar manner as Phillips used Ward during Denver's Super Bowl run. That might include playing a traditional safety role, playing the slot, or subbing in as a linebacker for Todd Davis in passing situations. It is not a stretch to think that the Broncos could roll out a jumbo dime package with four safeties -- Cravens, Darian Stewart, Justin Simmons and Will Parks -- to combat multi-tight end and two-back looks.
Washington is swapping picks with Denver in the fourth and fifth rounds and also acquiring another fifth-round selection. It's modest compensation for a player selected 53rd overall in the 2016 draft, but that was to be expected after Cravens sat out all of 2017 while contemplating retirement and undergoing treatment for post-concussion syndrome. Cravens also had a minor knee procedure in August, though he was expected to be ready for Week 1 before the other issues surfaced. He had 34 tackles, a sack and an interception across 295 defensive snaps in 11 games as a rookie, operating as a part-time safety and part-time nickel/dime linebacker. He'll likely compete for a similar role in Denver, where incumbent starting safeties Justin Simmons (ankle) and Darian Stewart both remain on the roster, though Stewart's contract could put him in danger if Cravens appears ready for a starting job. The Broncos probably wouldn't have made the trade without assurances Cravens intends to continue his career.
Cravens may end up staying with the Redskins, Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post reports. "We're not trading [Cravens]," Gruden said. "I just saw that on the ticker. He's still a member of this football team and we have every intention of seeing where he's at. I'll have to talk to him and see where he's at mentally. Physically, I know he's going to be in great shape. The big thing is, is this something that he wants to do?"
Cravens stepped away from football shortly before the 2017 regular-season opener for a mixture of personal and health-related reasons. He applied for reinstatement in mid-February and quickly was granted the request, but there were widespread rumors that the Redskins planned to trade or release him due to the unusual circumstances last season. Head coach Jay Gruden suggested otherwise, saying the team has no plans to move its 2016 second-round pick. Cravens made the most of his 295 defensive snaps as a rookie in 2016, piling up 34 tackles, a sack and an interception in 11 games while displaying the versatility to play both safety and nickel linebacker. Redskins Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams recently said that Cravens underwent targeted treatment for post-concussion syndrome, hinting that the safety's decision to step away from football was at least partially related to concerns about brain injuries.
After missing the entire 2017 campaign in an effort to take some time to get personal affairs in order and stay healthy, Cravens applied for reinstatement Monday, which the NFL granted him just a few days later. The 2016 second-round pick is now eligible to take the field in 2018, though it's not guaranteed he'll be back in Washington, as his relationship with the organization remains somewhat frayed based on how the past season transpired. The Redskins could thus opt to trade or cut Cravens this offseason, though the 22-year-old shouldn't have trouble finding work based on his pedigree and his respectable rookie season during which he recorded 34 tackles, one sack and one interception across 11 games.
A 2016 second-round pick, Cravens was expected to take on an elevated role for the Washington defense last season, but that never materialized after he underwent knee surgery in August before stepping away from the game. After giving Cravens the first month of the season off to determine his future in football, the Redskins ultimately elected to deactivate him and bar him from returning to the club in 2017. With Cravens having received medical clearance from doctors and now eager to resume his career, it's likely that the NFL will fulfill his desire for reinstatement. It's unclear, however, where Cravens' relationship stands with the Washington brass or if the team has any intention of keeping him on the roster prior to the upcoming season.