Because he played in at least 35 percent of the snaps in two of his first three seasons, Hitchens qualified for the "proven performance escalator," in his contract that takes his base salary from $690,000 to $1.84 million in 2017.
The escalator was added to the rookie wage scale as part of the collective bargaining agreement in 2011 for players drafted in Rounds 3-7. Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence were not eligible for the raises since they were the Cowboys’ first- and second-round picks, respectively. Martin, however, could cash in on a long-term deal this summer. The Cowboys will pick up Martin’s fifth-year option for 2018 later this spring, but hope to get him signed to an extension in the summer, much the same way they have done with Tyron Smith in 2014 and Travis Frederick last summer.
Hitchens, the 119th overall pick in 2014, has started 36 of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons. He finished third on the team in tackles, according the coaches' count, with 104, to go along with 1.5 sacks, four tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and two pass deflections.
The Cowboys had seven players picked in Rounds 4-7 in 2014, but only Hitchens remains. Five of the picks came in the seventh round.