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We now know the structure of Charles Leno’s contract

Washington Football Team v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

About a week ago, we got the news that LT Charles Leno had signed a contract extension to stay in Washington. The initial report was that it was a 3-year deal worth $37.5m, but now, thanks to the good people at Over the Cap, we know the structure of the deal.

Signing bonus

Leno receives a signing bonus of $9m, or about 24% of the contract value. This is fairly thrifty. Interestingly, the structure and timing of the contract charged $2.25m of this signing bonus to the 2021 season, based on my reading of the OTC chart.

Guarantees

In addition to the signing bonus, Leno has salary guarantees for 2022 and 2023 based on being on the roster in March each year. For the ‘22 season, that is a virtual certainty.

2022 - If he is on the roster on 20 March, then his base salary of $1.25m becomes guaranteed; there is also a $4m roster bonus that is the equivalent of guaranteed money.

If the team were to release Leno prior to 20 March 2022, then it would cost them the $9m signing bonus for no return at all.

2023 - Next year’s trigger date is 2 March 2023. If Leno is on the roster at that date, then $3.75m of his salary becomes guaranteed. If he is cut before that time, then Washington would have paid Leno a bit over $15m for one season (2022).

Total guarantees - The signing bonus ($9m), ‘22 and ‘23 guarantees of $5m ($1.25m + $3.75m), and the ‘22 roster bonus of $4m add up to $18m in total guarantees, all of which is almost certain to be earned.

Cash flows

The cash paid to Leno over 3 years looks like this:

2022 - $15.25m
($9m signing bonus + $1.25m base + $4m roster bonus + $1m game/workout bonuses)

2023 - $10.25m
($9.25m base + $1m game/workout bonuses)

2024 - $12m
($11m base + $1m game/workout bonuses)

Cost to cut Leno

  • If Leno is cut after one season (and before 2 March 2023) then the cost to the team is $15.25m for one season.
  • If Leno is cut after 2023, then the cost to the team is $25.5m in total ($12.75m per season)
  • If Leno plays to the end of the contract, it will pay him an average of $12.5m per season.
Source: Over the Cap

This contract is very much in line with most other contracts that Washington has used over the past decade or more. The team is clearly committed to Leno for the 2022 season and will pay a penalty rate if they cut him prior to 2023; however, he can be released after two seasons with no real penalty ($12.75m per season for 2022-23 vs. $12.5m per season for the full contract).

I think we can count on seeing Charles Leno in a Burgundy Brigands uniform for the next two seasons, at least. Leno is 30 years old now, so there’s no reason to expect that he can’t play at his current level through the full 3 years, which should go a long way towards providing stability to the offensive line unit.

Looking at other OL projected starters and backups:

  • Ereck Flowers is signed through 2022
  • Chase Roullier is signed through 2024
  • Wes Schweitzer is signed through 2022
  • Sam Cosmi is signed through 2024
  • Saahdiq Charles is signed through 2023