Charles Leno

WFT To Sign Charles Leno

The Washington Football Team has agreed to sign former Bears left tackle Charles Leno (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Once finalized, it’ll be a one-year deal for $5MM.

The Bears cut Leno earlier this month after investing a second-round pick in tackle Teven Jenkins. Washington, meanwhile, chose Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi in Round 2. Cosmi may be the long-term solution at LT, but they’ll ease him into the role with Leno as the stopgap starter.

Washington hasn’t had a solid left tackle since things went south with Trent Williams. Leno isn’t on Williams’ level, but he has been an LT starter for the past six seasons, serving as Chicago’s blindside protector from 2015-20. Pro Football Focus graded Leno as a top-25 tackle in three of the past four seasons, including the 2020 season. He’s durable, too; Leno hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year.

The Broncos also had Leno on their radar as they look to replace the injured Ja’Wuan James. Now, they’ll consider other veterans such asBobby Massie, Dennis Kelly, Jermaine Eluemunor and Cameron Fleming.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Charles Leno On Broncos’ Radar

The Broncos are doing extensive research in their effort to fill Ja’Wuan James‘ right tackle post. Four veterans — Bobby Massie, Dennis Kelly, Jermaine Eluemunor and Cameron Fleming — have come up thus far. Each is set to visit the team.

Denver has also expressed interest in Charles Leno. The right tackle-needy team has spoken with the longtime Bears left tackle-turned-free agent about the sudden vacancy, according to ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). However, Leno’s goal at the moment is to catch on with a team and play left tackle, Keim adds. The Broncos signed Ryan Pope earlier Tuesday but remain in the market for a starter-level tackle.

[RELATED: Washington Hosts Charles Leno On Visit]

Leno worked as the Bears’ starting left tackle from 2015-20 and graded as a top-30 tackle, per Pro Football Focus, last season. But Chicago cut him shortly after drafting Teven Jenkins in the second round. Leno, 29, went through a Monday workout with Washington, and it sounds like he remains in play for a stopgap role. Washington also drafted a tackle in Round 2, Texas’ Samuel Cosmi, but Leno’s visit signals the team is hunting for a short-term fix at Trent Williams‘ former spot.

No left tackle vacancy exists in Denver, with Garett Bolles having turned his career around in 2020. Bolles signed an extension to stay with the Broncos last year. The Broncos may well have considered another left tackle-to-right tackle conversion, but timing scuttled it. Days before James went down, the Ravens took Alejandro Villanueva off the market. They are prepared to move the longtime Steelers left tackle to the right side, where he is ticketed to replace Orlando Brown Jr. Villanueva worked under Broncos O-line coach Mike Munchak for several years in Pittsburgh.

Four of Leno’s pro seasons took place when Broncos HC Vic Fangio worked as the Bears’ defensive coordinator. For now, however, Massie is the more realistic option to follow Fangio from Chicago to Denver. Other free agent options include Mitchell Schwartz, Ricky Wagner and 2020 Broncos spot starter Demar Dotson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington To Host T Charles Leno On Visit

Days after the Bears released Charles Leno, the veteran left tackle will have an opportunity to catch on elsewhere. The Washington Football Team will host Leno on a visit Monday, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets.

In transition at left tackle for the past two years, with Trent Williams skipping the 2019 season and Washington trading the Pro Bowler away in 2020, the WFT did invest highly in this position in the draft. Washington chose Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi in Round 2, but the team appears to be in the market for a stopgap starter.

The Bears cut Leno earlier this week, doing so after they made a second-round tackle investment — Teven Jenkins — at the position. Washington passed on a tackle in the first round, selecting linebacker Jamin Davis instead. Cosmi may well profile as Williams’ true long-term successor, after the team shuffled a few players here over the past two seasons. But the Leno visit could signal Washington will view the ex-Longhorn as not being ready to step in to start the season.

Despite being a seventh-round pick, Leno has been a left tackle starter for the past six seasons. Chicago gave the former long-shot prospect an extension in 2017, and he served as the team’s blindside protector from 2015-20. Pro Football Focus graded Leno as a top-25 tackle in three of the past four years, including the 2020 season. Leno, 29, has not missed a game since his rookie season.

The Bears, however, have cut both their longtime bookends — Leno and Bobby Massie — and are starting over at the position. Jenkins may well be expected to start in Week 1; Cosmi may play a second-string role to begin his career. Washington has longtime right tackle Morgan Moses in place, but the team will see about pairing him with an experienced left tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Release Charles Leno

The Bears are cutting a staple of their offensive line for nearly the past decade. Chicago will be releasing veteran left tackle Charles Leno, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

No matter what Bears fans think of Leno, he far out-performed his draft status. A seventh-round pick back in 2014, he got his first start as a rookie and became the full-time starter at left tackle in 2015. He’s been durable, starting all 16 games in each of the past five seasons for Chicago.

In a follow-up tweet Rapoport describes the cut as a purely financial decision, one which will save the Bears $9MM in cap space when they make it a post-June 1 release. Leno certainly never was a star and caught a lot of flak the past couple yeas in Chicago, but he did make the Pro Bowl in 2018.

The Bears traded up to draft Oklahoma State’s Tevin Jenkins in the second-round this weekend, and Rapoport says they plan to plug him into the left side of the offensive line immediately. The 39th overall pick will be tasked with protecting the blindsides of Justin Fields and/or Andy Dalton as a rookie.

Leno had signed a four-year, $38MM extension with the Bears in 2017. He’ll now hit free agency at 29 and could become an intriguing option for teams like the Colts, who mostly decided to punt on offensive tackle during the draft. Indy currently only has Sam Tevi set to replace Anthony Castonzo, and Colts owner Jim Irsay recently hinted they could explore other veteran options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Restructure Charles Leno’s Contract

The Bears have converted $7MM of offensive tackle Charles Leno’s base salary into a signing bonus, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With that, the Bears have created $5.6MM in cap space, giving them flexibility as veterans get chopped from rosters around the NFL. The revision will also give the Bears $2.8MM in extra breathing room for 2020 and 2021. 

Leno, a 2014 seventh-rounder, inked a four year, $37MM extension with the Bears prior to the 2017 season. Over the course of his five-year NFL career, the 27-year-old (28 in October) has started in all 61 of his contests.

In other Bears news, the club waived Elliott Fry earlier this week, leaving Eddy Pineiro as the last remaining kicker on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Extend LT Charles Leno Jr.

The Bears and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. are closing in on four-year, $38MM extension, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. The deal includes $21.5MM in guarantees. "<strong

[RELATED: Bears Sign LB Kelvin Sheppard]

The new pact marks a massive step up in pay for the former seventh round pick. Prior to today’s agreement, he had just one year left on his rookie deal at a salary of $1.797MM.

Leno, 25, has started 32 games for the Bears over the past two seasons, including the last 29 contests. Last year he graded out as the No. 41 tackle among 78 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. He may not be a superstar, but it’s getting harder and harder to find quality tackles. Leno offers stability and youth at a time when some older mediocre tackles are making north of $7MM/year.

The Bears now have the left side of their offensive line locked up for years to come thanks to recent deals for Leno and left guard Kyle Long. Starting to the right of those two will be center Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton, and Bobby Massie. The Bears hope that they have the building blocks in place for an O-Line that can adequately protect Mike Glennon in 2017 and Mitch Trubisky in future seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Giants, Saints, Bears, Vikings

Veteran signal-caller Josh Johnson is likely to emerge as the Giants‘ backup quarterback in 2017, which means free agent signee Geno Smith is in danger of being released, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Johnson spent the entire 2016 campaign with Big Blue, and though he was only for two games, he earned the trust of Giants’ coaches. New York, meanwhile, would only incur $325K in dead money by parting ways with Smith. Third-round pick Davis Webb, of course, is slated to open the season as the Giants’ third-string quarterback.

  • The Saints have now signed every member of their 2017 draft class aside from first-round offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, and the Wisconsin product’s deal is on hold until he can pass a physical, reports Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter links). Ramczyk, the 32nd overall selection, is dealing with a hip issue. New Orleans had been one of two clubs (along with the Rams) that hadn’t signed a draft pick before yesterday, and the reason for that delay was fiscal. The Saints picked up $7.8MM in cap space Thursday when Jairus Byrd‘s post-June 1 release was officially processed, giving the team a bit more breathing room to sign its rookies.
  • While the Bears “would like nothing more” than to extend left tackle Charles Leno, it’s unclear if Chicago plans to open contract talks before the season gets underway, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. Leno, 25, is certainly a success story, as the former seventh-round pick has started 32 games for the Bears over the past two seasons. He’s steadily improved, as well, and last year graded as the No. 41 tackle among 78 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Chicago will get a relative bargain on Leno in 2017, as he’s due a base salary of only $1.797MM. A long-term deal could easily take Leno over the $10MM per year barrier, if not higher.
  • Michael Floyd‘s one-year deal with the Vikings doesn’t contain any guaranteed money, but the veteran wideout can earn a pay bump through several incentives, as Ben Goessling of ESPN.com details. If Floyd maxes out his incentive-based by reaching 70 catches, 1,000 yards, or 12 touchdowns, he’ll bring in an extra $4.6MM. The bonuses start at $1.5MM, which Floyd can earn by hitting 40 receptions, 500 yards, or six touchdowns. None of that incentive money is on Minnesota’s salary cap for now, as it’s all considered “not likely to be earned” because Floyd didn’t reach even the lowest thresholds in 2016. Additionally, Floyd could struggle to hit the top rung of his incentive ladder given that he’s expected to face a suspension in 2017.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Titans, Ravens, Draft Visits

Titans edge defender Kamerion Wimbley agreed earlier this week to restructure his contract, and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com has the breakdown of what Wimbley’s new deal looks like. However, as Fitzgerald details, Wimbley wasn’t the only Titan to rework his contract this week. Tight end Craig Stevens also has a new 2014 cap figure, reducing his overall base salary by $1.7MM in exchange for a $500K guarantee. While Stevens’ 2015 salary remains unchanged, his ’14 cap number is now only about $2.69MM.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Ravens haven’t had an above-average, long-term solution at right tackle for a number of years, and Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun believes the team would be wise to address the position with its first-round pick this year. That’s one of a handful of topics Preston addresses in his Ravens notebook, which also touches on the club’s recent tight end and running back signings.
  • The Bills are eyeing a pair of offensive line prospects today, hosting Mississippi State’s Charles Siddoway for a pre-draft visit (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com) and having dinner tonight with Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews (Twitter link via Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 AM).
  • Having already met with the Steelers, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard now has visits lined up with the Jets, Bengals, and Rams, as he said today on SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link).
  • Another cornerback, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, also has a handful of visits scheduled with AFC teams, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Fuller will meet with the Colts, Bengals, Raiders, Jets, Broncos, and Bears, says Wilson.
  • The Chargers will work out Troy quarterback Deon Anthony on April 22, reports Wilson at the National Football Post.
  • More from Wilson (via Twitter): The Patriots are working out Boise State’s Geraldo BoldewijnMatt Paradis, and Charles Leno on Wednesday, while Virginia-Lynchburg cornerback Keith Lewis visited the Raiders and has a private workout lined up next week with the Chiefs (Twitter link).