LAKE FOREST – With the drafting of an offensive tackle in the second and third round of this past weekend’s NFL Draft, there was a chance that someone currently on the line may be on his way out.
That person is tackle Charles Leno Jr., who has been a constant on an offensive line full of change over the last few years.
The offensive left tackle confirmed that the Bears are releasing him after seven seasons with the franchise. Leno was a contributor on the offensive line under three different head coaches after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
He played in six games with one start in his rookie seasons under Marc Trestman, then would start 13 games the next season under John Fox while taking snaps in all 16 contests. He would then start at tackle for every game the next six seasons for the Bears, the last three under Matt Nagy, including two playoff games.
While his play was up and down at times, he was able to stay healthy on an offensive line that was hit hard by injuries, especially in the 2020 season. Leno did have an $11.294 million cap hit for the 2021 season, which could have played a major role in his release.
At the same time, the Bears were looking for upgrades at the positions and to fill a starter during the draft after the release of starter Bobby Massie. The team selected highly-rated tackle Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State in the second round on Friday then picked Larry Borom, who played primarily tackle but some guard, in the third round Saturday.