Veteran linebacker Curtis Lofton also received salary bumps of $250,000 over each of the next two seasons for earning an unspecified escalator in his contract.
Hicks and White earned their raises as part of the new wage scale for draft picks that was written into the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Players drafted between Rounds 3-7 can trigger a Proven Performance Escalator by playing at least 35 percent of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of their first three seasons. Hicks, a third-round pick, and White, a fifth-rounder, both qualified.
As a result, Hicks’ salary has increased from $660,000 to $1,561,500 and White’s from $660,000 to $1,574,000, according to ESPN Stats and Information. It’s unclear why the salaries are different. They’re based on the lowest restricted free agent tender for the year.
The pay increases will add another degree of difficulty to the Saints' salary cap situation. They're already more than $20 million over the projected 2015 salary cap -- though general manager Mickey Loomis insisted it's not nearly as bad as it sounds.
The pay hike is obviously good news for Hicks -- who will no doubt earn an even bigger payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.
It might complicate matters for White though, since his future with the Saints is less guaranteed. White went from a starting cornerback to a backup to being benched to being moved to safety as the 2014 season went on -- leaving him admittedly feeling like he’s “just out here floating.”
As for Lofton, his salaries went from $2.4 million and $5.4 million over the next two seasons to $2.65 million and $5.65 million. He’s also due a roster bonus of $4.5 million this year, bringing his 2015 total to $7.25 million in salary and bonuses.
That’s pretty steep, especially considering the Saints' cap situation. But as I wrote Thursday, Lofton probably earned it with a strong 2014 campaign in which he ranked fourth in the NFL with 145 tackles.