The veteran safety was among a dozen cuts made by the Broncos on Friday as they began the process of forming their regular season roster. Cravens confirmed the news on his private Twitter account.
“Hopefully our paths cross again Denver,” he wrote, per the Denver Post. “Thank you and I’ll miss this city.”
Cravens arrived in the Mile High City in 2018, as part of a pick-swap with the Washington Redskins. He appeared in five games last year, recording 18 tackles as a rarely-used defensive back who clashed with the previous coaching staff, which was replaced in January.
Cravens, however, never endeared himself to new Broncos head man Vic Fangio, who challenged him throughout the offseason to earn his keep, a task apparently too tall for the 24-year-old.
“He’s got to be a safety first and foremost,” Fangio said in May. “Anything besides safety is just a couple crumbs here and there. He’s got to win a job on this team as a safety.”
Cravens’ fate was likely sealed Thursday, as he played into the fourth quarter of Denver’s fifth preseason game — never an encouraging sign. Earlier in the evening, Cravens badly whiffed on a tackle attempt, something that’s non-negotiable to Fangio, who detests mental errors.
A 2016 second-round draft pick, Cravens turned in a solid rookie season, notching 24 tackles, five passes defensed, an interception and sack across 11 appearances, working as a “dimebacker” — a linebacker-safety hybrid.
Then 2017 happened, and Cravens shockingly informed the Redskins of his decision to retire days before the season-opener. The team initially placed him on their exempt list before sending him to the reserve/retired list, which caused his rookie contract to toll despite being medically cleared from lingering concussion symptoms and earning his official reinstatement from the league.
The Broncos, like all NFL teams, must be down to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Depth Chart Update
With Cravens gone and Dymonte Thomas (leg) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) injured, the Broncos’ safety group is whittled to Justin Simmons, Will Parks, and Trey Marshall, whose roster status is tenuous at best.
Cravens’ release could signal that free-agent addition Kareem Jackson, a natural cornerback, will play safety full-time, or close to it. Jackson started transitioning to the role last season with the Houston Texans, and has practiced since May opposite Simmons in Denver’s new-look secondary.
In related news, the Broncos acquired CB Duke Dawson from the New England Patriots on Friday. Dawson’s acquisition may be another hint on Jackson’s permanent position, as well as an indication that slot corner Bryce Callahan’s foot injury remains a concern.
Cravens Put Redskins on Blast
Nearly two calendar years removed from donning a Washington Redskins uniform, Cravens still harbors resentment over his departure from the club, which, he claimed in an epic Twitter rant earlier this month, was preceded by a “mishandled” injury and “withheld” information.
Sparking the rant, presumably, was sympathy toward Cravens’ former teammate, star Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams, a training camp holdout who has demanded a trade and reportedly told those close to him he will not play another snap in the nation’s capital.
“2 years later and I’m still fighting the Skins on something they’ve continued to do countless time . Which is why the best tackle in the game refuses to play for them now. Same reason I left. Mishandled injuries and withheld info. All evidence points to them being guilty!” Cravens wrote in the first of five tweets.
“I will continue to fight this case and as the Skins continue to call countless irrelevant witnesses to buy time and hopefully wait me out from their due fate . I will not settle no matter how much the Skins drag their feet on this . They know they’re guilty!”
“During the time I was put on the exempt list the Skins went out of their way to cut my insurance off, froze my payments, refuse to pay me and even recoup pay. All for a very real injury that THEY decided was made up. Which is why people fear being hurt in the league.”
“I will not be intimated nor will this go away anytime soon Skins. The evidence in court shows your guilty actions. The lies and mixed stories your witness provided have all been proven false . Use the CBA rules to your advantage all you want I will still win ! You will not!”
“2 years and no interest added to what I’m rightfully due and no timetable as to when the Skins will be forced to pay me what they owe. I’m willing to fight until the end. I thank the players who have experienced this with this team first hand that have called them on it!”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL