- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Washington Football Team plans to sign left tackle Charles Leno to a one-year, $5 million deal, according to Leno’s agent.

The deal comes days after Leno visited the team Monday. His addition gives Washington an experienced Pro Bowl-caliber starter to compete for the left tackle spot.

Washington drafted Texas tackle Sam Cosmi in the second round of this year’s draft, but still jumped at the chance to sign Leno when the 29-year-old became available after the Chicago Bears released him last week upon drafting tackle Teven Jenkins.

Leno, who is 6-foot-3 and 307 pounds, developed into a solid starter in Chicago. The 2014 seventh-rounder went from hardly playing his rookie season to starting 93 of 96 games over the next six years. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018.

The $5 million deal is less than what he was previously scheduled to make. The Bears cleared $9 million off the books in cutting Leno. The deal is also worth less than what the Indianapolis Colts recently paid former first-rounder Eric Fisher, who signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract despite coming off a torn Achilles. 

The NFL Network first reported the terms of Leno’s signing.

Washington, meanwhile, has been in search of a solution at left tackle since last year, when it traded star Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers. The team used a rotating door of Geron Christian, Cornelius Lucas and even right tackle Morgan Moses on the blindside in 2020 — with Lucas emerging as the most reliable. The team also drafted former LSU tackle Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round last year, but he played guard in the regular season. 

Washington‘s offensive line room is crowded. Beyond its additions at tackle, the team also acquired former starter Ereck Flowers from the Miami Dolphins to compete at left guard and signed Tyler Larsen in free agency. 

As of now, Washington will enter training camp with the following offensive lineman on the roster: Leno, Cosmi, Christian, Moses, Charles, Flowers, Larsen, David Sharpe, Wes Schweitzer, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Keith Ismael, David Steinmetz, Timon Parris, Wes Martin, Beau Benzschawel and Rick Leonard.

Washington only kept nine offensive linemen on its opening 53-man day roster last year. 

Washington‘s offensive line was inconsistent in 2020. The unit surrendered 50 sacks — the second-most in the league, according to the NFL. The team also dealt with injuries, using a number of combinations upfront as the year progressed. 

Coach Ron Rivera and his front office sought to upgrade the offense this offseason. The team released starter Alex Smith and signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington wanted to surround Fitzpatrick with a better supporting cast — adding speed at wide receiver with Curtis Samuel (three years, $34.5 million) and third-rounder Dyami Brown, a veteran wideout in Adam Humphries and new tight ends in Sammis Reyes and fourth-rounder John Bates. 

Those changes also extended to the trenches.

“We felt like we solidified the offensive line in some of the things that we’ve done,” Rivera said. 

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