What the tender means is that other teams can extend offers to Gilliam once free agency begins Thursday. If Gilliam signs an offer sheet with another team, the Seahawks have five days to match it and retain Gilliam. But if they decide not to, Gilliam can walk without Seattle receiving any compensation.
The Seahawks' other option would have been to offer Gilliam a second-round tender of $2.746 million. That would have cost them $949,000 more than the lowest tender, but it would have basically assured that Gilliam remained in Seattle in 2017 because other teams would have had to give up a second-round pick to sign him.
Gilliam, 26, has started 29 games at right tackle for the Seahawks the last two seasons. Last offseason, the team pegged him to replace Russell Okung at left tackle, but Gilliam underwent a procedure to remove a cyst from his knee in the spring. The Seahawks instead decided to keep him on the right side where Gilliam started in 2015.
Gilliam started the first 11 games of last season before the Seahawks replaced him with Bradley Sowell for three games. Gilliam got his job back in Week 16 and started the final four games of the season (playoffs included).
The one-year, $1.797 million offer from the Seahawks would not be guaranteed.
Coach Pete Carroll told reporters at the combine that the Seahawks expect Gilliam back next season.
The only other right tackle option on the Seahawks' roster is Germain Ifedi, but Carroll said earlier this offseason that the team prefers to keep Ifedi at right guard. Seattle very well could look to add an offensive tackle when free agency begins later this week.