Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer reportedly did not have much faith in Kirk Cousins by the end of last season.
"Zimmer complained openly in coaching meetings about Cousins, and some of Zimmer’s top lieutenants echoed the sentiment," Chad Graff of The Athletic reported. "Zimmer didn’t feel the quarterback made enough 'winning plays,' that he didn't take the necessary shots to help lead the Vikings to victory, and that he didn’t elevate his teammates."
Zimmer was fired after finishing with an 8-9 record in 2021, missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The Vikings went 72-56-1 in eight seasons under Zimmer.
Cousins is coming off his fourth year in Minnesota, producing impressive numbers during this stretch with 124 passing touchdowns and a 103.5 passer rating.
In 2021, the quarterback was an injury replacement in the Pro Bowl after recording 4,221 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. But the offense lacked consistency, finishing 14th in points.
The Vikings have just one playoff appearance with Cousins as their starter, resulting in one wild-card win. A year before Cousins arrived, Minnesota reached the NFC Championship Game behind journeyman quarterback Case Keenum.
Cousins will now enter the 2022 season with a $45 million cap hit, the third-highest in the NFL, per Spotrac.
This puts pressure on new head coach Kevin O'Connell to get more out of the 33-year-old in order to bring the squad back into contention.
O'Connell has worked with Cousins before, serving as a quarterbacks coach for the Washington Commanders in 2017. That could lead to a better relationship between the two sides following Zimmer's exit.