The Seahawks have reportedly made an expected move, tendering restricted free agent Garry Gilliam at the lowest level, which assures Seattle can match any offer he would receive.
In what was an expected move, the Seahawks will reportedly give restricted free agent offensive tackle Garry Gilliam the lowest tender of $1.797 million, according to ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said during the NFL Combine last week that the team planned to keep Gilliam and it had been expected that the lowest tender was what the team would offer.
Other teams can offer make an offer to Gilliam when free agency begins on Thursday. But with the tender, Seattle would have five days to match it and keep Gilliam. If they decided not to, then the Seahawks would lose Gilliam without getting any compensation. Seattle could have given Gilliam a second-round tender at $2.746 million which would then mean a team would have to give the Seahawks a second-round pick if it signed Gilliam. But it would obviously also mean agreeing to pay Gilliam roughly $1 million more a season. The lowest tender is not guaranteed, meaning Seattle could still cut Gilliam and not have to pay him anything (as happened last year with center Patrick Lewis).
Gilliam is one of Seattle’s seven restricted free agents. Others are cornerbacks DeShawn Shead and Mohammed Seisay, safety Steven Terrell, linebackers Ronald Powell, Brock Coyle and Dewey McDonald.
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Teams must submit qualifying offers to RFAs by 1 p.m. Seattle time on Thursday.
Giving Gilliam the tender would seem to assure that the Seahawks will retain all of the players who finished the 2016 season as starters on the offensive line as center Justin Britt, guards Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi and left tackle George Fant are already all under contract through at least 2017.
For a time late in the 2016 season it was tempting to wonder if Gilliam was on his way out of Seattle. The team began the season with the plan that Gilliam could take over for the departed Russell Okung at left tackle. But Gilliam missed most of the off-season program and was limited early in training camp after having a cyst removed on his knee and was moved to right tackle.
He started at that spot until being replaced in a loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 27 by veteran Bradley Sowell, who had been the left tackle until being injured in October and replaced by Fant.
Gilliam was then inactive for the next two games, and stated later he wondered what his future held with the Seahawks.
But after Sowell struggled, Gilliam returned to the starting lineup for the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs with offensive line coach Tom Cable saying he looked like a more physical player, something the team had been hoping to see.
The Seahawks are likely to pursue veteran offensive line options when free agency begins on Thursday to add depth and competition. But Carroll and general manager John Schneider also spoke at the Combine about the value of keeping a young offensive line together and letting it grow — Gilliam and Britt are the elder statesmen of the five who ended the season as starters, each entering the league in 2014.
“What’s important to us is that we develop,” Carroll said at the Combine. “There are opportunities along the way, free agency is coming up next week, and we have a chance to do some things there—we’ll see what’s available to us—very aggressively and very actively. We will go into the draft process in the same fashion, and we’ll go right through the whole season developing our young guys. One thing we do know is that our young guys are going to get better. They’re going to make hopefully a significant first-year to second-year jump like most players do, and that will really help us as we move forward. But we need to make those positions as competitive as possible. If we can bring in a guy to take a spot, we got better. If we can bring in a guy who makes another guy have to play better to hold his spot, we’re getting better. That’s just the basic thinking that we have. Every step along the way, we’re going to try to max it out.”