Xavier Rhodes
Mike Zimmer is calling out Xavier Rhodes. Zimmer claims that Rhodes needs to play better. Will Rhodes respond? (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Xavier Rhodes is paid like one of the best cornerbacks in the league but he didn’t play like it in 2018. After signing a 5-year contract worth $70 million prior to last season, Rhodes never lived up to the contract. Now that we are heading into 2019, Rhodes is getting called out by his head coach, Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer is challenging Rhodes to play better. Simple as that.

“I just don’t think he played as well as he can play,” Zimmer said via the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling. “He needs to play up to his ability level. We’re paying him a lot of money. He needs to play up to that contract.”

Rhodes missed some time in 2018 with groin and hamstring issues. That may have affected his performance. Outside of that, his numbers weren’t terrible. Rhodes gave up 538 yards in coverage. That ranked for 30th best in the NFL out of corners. Not terrible but not elite. I think Zimmer is looking for that elite status.

As we enter 2019, Rhodes is set to earn a base salary of $10.4 million. The Vikings have a loaded defense but they go to another level when Rhodes is at the top of his game. In fairness to Rhodes, the offense wasn’t nearly as good a year ago compared to 2017. That has more to do with it than people realize.

Will the Vikings get back to playoff form in 2019? To me, Kirk Cousins has all the pressure on his shoulders. If Gary Kubiak can’t fix him, then the Vikings are screwed. Doesn’t matter if Rhodes plays well at that point. The NFC North is going to be a fun division to watch. Is Chicago really that much better than Minnesota and Green Bay? I’m not buying it.