The Seattle Seahawks were basically set to replace all five starting positions from their offensive line last season: Mark Glowinski would take over for Justin Britt at left guard. Britt would replace Patrick Lewis as the center. Rookie Germain Ifedi won a job basically from the moment he was drafted 31st overall and will be the right guard, in place of J.R. Sweezy who somehow got a $32 million deal from the Bucs. And then the right tackle spot presumably would go to someone else as well, since it looked like Garry Gilliam would smoothly transition to playing on the left side.
That didn’t happen.
While there weren’t a lot of reports about Gilliam struggling in training camp at left tackle, the team was quick to move him back to the right side after free agent J’Marcus Webb twisted his knee in practice. Head coach Pete Carroll inserted free agent Bradley Sowell on the left side, which to a lot of people only meant that “Gilliam was more comfortable on the right side,” but that made little sense at the time considering that they needed Gilliam to be comfortable on the left side. And soon. Instead, it looks like Sowell outright won the job at left tackle. And Gilliam may lose the job he had last season as well.
As Stephen Cohen wrote for the Seattle PI on Tuesday:
There's still a battle going on up there," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Tuesday. "We feel like the inside three is pretty solid and Brad's done a nice job at left tackle, so we're still taking along look at the right tackle position right now, give both of those guys an opportunity to continue to compete for it, and we'll see how it shakes out."
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Gilliam has been one of the most disappointing Seahawks players throughout the summer after being given a chance to earn a starting role as Russell Wilson's blindside protector.
He'll compete with 2016 free-agent addition Webb, who looks fully recovered from his knee injury. The 6-foot-7, 331-pounder impressed while playing both right and left tackle for Seattle in last Thursday's preseason matchup with the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field.
By most accounts, Gilliam was a fairly decent right tackle in 2015, but in a matter of weeks he’s been demoted from the left side to the right side, and maybe from starting on the right side to becoming a full-time backup once again. The college tight end had extremely high upside following his pro day numbers at Penn State, but even if he manages to win a job over Webb — a fringe-starting tackle as is — this appears to be a huge step back in his career.
And once again, the Seahawks will still have five new starters on the offensive line.