What the Charles Leno signing means for the Washington Football Team

Washington Football Team OT Charles Leno Jr. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Football Team OT Charles Leno Jr. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Football Team agreed to a one-year deal with Charles Leno Jr. on Wednesday. The $5 million contract is a solid value and gives Washington more depth and competition up front for their tackle room.

Adding Leno also has a big-time effect on the roles that each tackle on their roster is expected to play. And it could push some players to new positions or to the roster bubble as a whole.

Here’s exactly what Leno’s signing means for Washington’s tackle room.

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How Charles Leno Jr. signing impacts the Washington Football Team

Cornelius Lucas likely will become the team’s swing tackle. As solid as Lucas was last year for Washington, the team probably didn’t sign Leno to back Lucas up. In fact, when both Lucas and Leno played in Chicago, it was Leno that served as the starter with Lucas functioning as a great swing tackle option for the team.

In Washington, they each will likely occupy the same roles as they did with the 2019 Bears. Sure, Lucas will be afforded a chance to compete with Leno, but Leno likely has a leg up on his competition. That’s not a bad thing for Washington because Lucas can play both tackle positions well and he may well be one of the better swing tackles in the league. So, not only did they potentially improve their starting lineup, they may have improved their depth as well.

Sam Cosmi will be given a year to develop at tackle. This is great news for Washington. As talented and athletic as Cosmi is, he is still developing as a player and will need some time to work on his game at the NFL level. In all likelihood, he’ll serve as the team’s No. 4 tackle and won’t need to be active on game day unless there are injuries.

By giving Cosmi time to develop, Washington can cross-train him at both tackle spots to see which side of the ball best suits him. Then, by 2022, John Matsko should have Cosmi ready to take over as a starter at one of the positions.

It seems like a smart plan for Washington to have depth in front of Cosmi. If he looks ready to play, he can factor into the battle for playing time. But there’s no pressure to rush him into action as he continues to grow and improve as a player.

Saahdiq Charles will likely focus on playing guard for 2021. Charles certainly can still play tackle and will probably train at all positions up front, save for center. That said, with three experienced veterans and a second-round pick at the tackle position, Charles will probably have a better chance to compete at the guard spot for a role behind Brandon Scherff, Wes Schweitzer, and Ereck Flowers.

Charles still has loads of potential and could be a tackle option in ’22 since Leno, Lucas, and Morgan Moses will all see their contracts expire. However, for this season, he’s best served focusing on the interior line. That’s where he’ll have a chance to make the biggest impact for Washington, so if he can become more versatile, that would make him a weapon on the offensive line. And Ron Rivera would like that.

Geron Christian’s time in Washington is probably up. Christian was a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft but so far, his NFL career hasn’t been a very good one. Christian has largely struggled when on the field and despite his 6-foot-6 frame and athletic ability, he hasn’t been able to develop into a quality player. And that’s been under the guidance of both Bill Callahan and Matsko.

With Leno joining the fray, there simply doesn’t appear to be room for Christian. Lucas took the starting job from him last year and never looked back. Unless Christian makes massive strides this offseason, it’s hard to envision him sticking around. He needs a fresh start anyway, so this could be good for both sides.

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Nothing is written in stone for Washington, but this certainly seems like the fallout from the Leno signing. The move was a good one by Washington, as they are continuing to add depth, competition, and experience to their offensive line.