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Washington Football Team signs left tackle Charles Leno Jr.

The Washington Football Team acquired a new starting left tackle on Wednesday in former Chicago Bears standout Charles Leno Jr.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Leno signed with Washington a one-year contract worth $5 million:

Leno was a seventh-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Boise State, but after appearing in six games as a rookie, he became a starter in Chicago for six solid seasons.

The Bears surprisingly released Leno after trading up to draft Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins in the second round. Jenkins played most of his snaps in college at right tackle, but is being counted on to transition to the left side full-time in the NFL.

What Charles Leno Jr. signing means for Washington Football Team

What Charles Leno Jr. signing means for Washington Football Team
Sep 15, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) is congratulated by offensive guard Brandon Scherff (75) after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike Leno’s prior team, it appears that Washington isn’t going to count on a rookie to fill the key position of left tackle to protect veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s blind side. Leno is fully expected to start in Week 1.

This comes in spite of the fact that the Football Team used a second-round pick as well on Samuel Cosmi. The former Texas Longhorns tackle has experience playing on the left and right side, and is an excellent athlete, but is a bit on the raw side.

Cosmi now gets to sit and learn behind a veteran in Leno who fought his way from humble draft status to a legitimate starter. Plus, Fitzpatrick will feel more at ease with an experienced player on the edge.

Pro Football Focus rated Washington’s offensive line sixth-best in the NFL last season — and that was without Leno. It stands to reason this group could be even better, especially with a steadier QB situation in 2021.

Fitzpatrick is already flanked by dynamic weapons in Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown in the receiving corps. Having a better left tackle will allow time for those capable deep threats to get downfield, positioning Fitzmagic to unleash an excellent vertical passing game.

Combine those added elements with one of the NFL’s best defenses on top of the Leno acquisition, and the Football Team is looking even better to repeat as NFC East champions this season.

Related: NFL defense rankings – Outlook for 2021 season