The Seahawks’ decisions on restricted free agents DeShawn Shead and Garry Gilliam were really the biggest questions among Seattle’s own free agents, and the Hawks have made savvy business decisions based on extenuating circumstances.
Because Shead is dealing with a torn ACL that could sideline him for half of the 2017 season, the Seahawks made the smart decision to forgo a tender and try to bring back the homegrown starting cornerback on a cheaper contract. Gilliam, meanwhile, reportedly has received the low tender of $1.8 million, which gives the Hawks the right to match any offer for their incumbent starting right tackle.
Before he was injured, Shead seemed likely to get at least a second-round tender ($2.75 million) or even a first ($3.9 million) — and possibly an extension later in the offseason (a la Doug Baldwin in 2014). But, due to his very unfortunate injury suffered in the playoff loss to Atlanta, Shead is not expected to be available until midseason. It would have been a waste of money to pay him even the low tender.
It is unlikely any other team will offer him a contract, so the Hawks are playing the odds that he will come back to them for the minimum (or near it) and prove he can come back and earn a better deal in the games he does play next season. The team will save about $1 million by not tendering him.
For much of last season, Gilliam did nothing to merit a tender. But he got it together in the final month and — with the Hawks in dire need of bodies on the offensive line — received the low tender. It is unlikely any team will submit an offer sheet for the former undrafted tackle, who is still a major work in progress and might have already hit his ceiling.
It’s also possible Gilliam won’t play for $1.8 million — if he is aced out at right tackle again. The Hawks have often tendered guys just to keep options open and then have asked them to take pay cuts. In 2013, they tendered safety Chris Maragos, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and long snapper Clint Gresham at $1.32 million. None of those players played under those tenders, though. Maragos took a pay cut, Gresham was given a cheaper extension and McDonald was cut and re-signed after Week 1 for the veteran minimum. In 2014, Jeron Johnson took a cut from the $2.187 million second-round tender to $1.36 million.
The Seahawks were smart not to tender any of their other RFAs either, including backup linebacker Brock Coyle and safety Steven Terrell. The team will be OK paying minimum salaries to those guys, with the idea of drafting better players.
Seattle’s only notable unrestricted free agents are Steven Hauschka and Luke Willson. Seattle signed Blair Walsh to replace Hauschka and expect to lose Willson to a team interested in paying more than Seattle wants to.