Commanders

What the signing of Charles Leno Jr. means for WFT's O-line

Commanders

The Washington Football Team acquired a new offensive lineman on Wednesday, as the club agreed to a deal with free agent Charles Leno Jr., according to his agent.

Leno's contract is for one year and worth $5 million, as Adam Schefter and others reported. 

Before getting into how Leno's arrival impacts the offensive front, let's first get into Leno a bit more.

The 29-year-old was a seventh-round pick by the Bears in 2014, and he was with Chicago from that day until about a week-and-a-half ago, when the franchise released him after selecting Teven Jenkins in the second round of the most recent draft.

From 2015 to 2020, though, Leno was the Bears' unquestioned starter at left tackle, and he hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. Overall, the one-time Pro Bowler has made himself into a valuable piece, and his career is now set to continue in Washington.

That development has interesting implications for the rest of the offensive line, and those implications begin at left tackle, of course.

Before Leno's signing, Cornelius Lucas and 2021 second-rounder Sam Cosmi appeared set to square off for the starting left tackle gig, with Geron Christian and David Sharpe battling behind them for a roster spot.

From there, whoever lost out in the Lucas vs. Cosmi matchup would presumably be the main, versatile backup to the winner as well as Morgan Moses on the right side, seeing as both Lucas and Cosmi can line up on either end.

 

With Leno in the picture, however, things are much more crowded (which is promising and how the league's top contenders become top contenders, for the record).

Leno — it's assumed as of now — will be tabbed as the starter, at least to open the campaign. If that holds true, Cosmi and Lucas should compete for that second-string, swing tackle gig, while Christian and Sharpe find themselves in a much more perilous spot. In all, it's a rather deep group, even if it doesn't have a Trent Williams-type stud. 

At the risk of getting too carried away over a mid-May addition, could this transaction mean something for the long-term structure of the line, too? Possibly.

Moses can be let go next spring without Washington accruing any dead cap charges, and while he posted a much-needed bounce-back for Rivera and Co., he'll be 31 by then. Therefore, it's not entirely unreasonable to imagine the team moving on from him and perhaps going with a Leno/Cosmi pairing for the foreseeable future. Yet that's just conjecture for now. 

Overall, bringing on Leno seems like a smart snag by Washington. He's always available, takes the pressure off of Cosmi, likely bumps Lucas into a more appropriate slot on the depth chart and further rounds out the O-line as a whole. And if he gets beaten out by someone else, that someone else will have had to put together an impressive spring and summer.

The defensive front will rightfully get all the attention this year in Washington, but their counterparts on the other side of the ball look very sound, too.