EAGAN, Minn. -- After a whirlwind three months that required Kirk Cousins to move his family across the country, learn a new offense and develop relationships with coaches and teammates after signing a three-year, $84 million contract in free agency, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback can finally exhale.
All of the changes Cousins experienced came with the territory -- moving on to the next chapter of his career after six years with the Washington Redskins. That doesn't mean the transition has always been seamless.
Cousins felt the spring offseason was "a bit like drinking through a fire hose," given the amount of new information he had to process and execute in expedited fashion. At the forefront of learning a scheme designed around his strengths, Cousins' first few months in the Twin Cities centered on building continuity with his offensive line and skill players.
Cementing that connection is a process will take longer than the several weeks of OTAs and minicamp. Finding a common ground between the way his receivers like to run routes and the way Cousins has executed throws to his offensive weapons in the past was where it all started when the quarterback invited Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs down to Atlanta for an impromptu throwing session in early April. Those conversations continued to evolve during the spring as Cousins was able to expand upon that chemistry in full practices and leave feeling all parties were on the same page.
"It's a process of saying, 'Hey, this is the way I've done if for six years. You've done it a different way for five years. Let's try to talk about why you've had success, why I've had success. Let's find some middle ground, let's decide whether I'm going to learn your way, you're going to learn my way,'" Cousins said. "That's the process I'm talking about. Every route, every concept, really we could talk about each individual one. The best part of the whole thing is you know you have a chance when the communication is as healthy as it is.
"[Thielen is] receptive to listening; I can understand what he's getting at. It's the same with Stef. That's where when I say I'm really excited about the locker room and the players I work with, it's moments like that, where I feel really good about the communication, that they're hearing you and you're hearing them."
During the six weeks leading up to the Vikings reporting for training camp at the end of July, Cousins will work to perfect the balance between relaxing and staying mentally prepared. Though he doesn't have any concrete plans in place to work with his receivers, he will dedicate his efforts to the areas of the offense he didn't grasp the first time around.
"I think the more important level of communication will be between me and the coaches, talking about some philosophy things and how I want plays to be designed," Cousins said. "I'll have my iPad with me as I go home, and I'll spend time every day going back.
"All the stuff I didn't catch, go back through and see that I had starred this, I had checkmarked this as something to go back to when we had time rather than take time when we were so busy."
"I'm going to go back, I'll make a list," he continued, "probably get on the phone with [offensive coordinator] coach [John] DeFilippo or [quarterbacks] coach [Kevin] Stefanski and email and just go through it all to get each question answered over the summer."
Because he feels like he's "a little behind the eight ball," Cousins' summer plans include ample time in the playbook each day to prevent losing the knowledge and muscle memory he has built up. But if there's anything his first six years in the NFL have taught him, it's the importance of pushing back at this time of year to prevent burnout.
"Last year, we got to like Week 2 and because of how much I was grinding all camp and even in the summer, I felt like we were in Week 12," Cousins said. "I couldn't believe that we were only in Week 2 because I had treated July and August like it was game day."
A change of scenery is part of that plan. Cousins is scheduled to be in his hometown of Holland, Michigan, for his two-day youth football camp June 29-30. Last year, Cousins broke ground on a beach house on Lake Michigan that he told MLive.com he was looking "forward to it being a family gathering spot for many years." The backdrop of the water and serene western Michigan beaches might provide the perfect space for Cousins to unwind over the next two months while poring over the concepts he hopes will have him ready to go when training camp arrives.
"Just keep stacking a brick up every day and believe that by the end of August or early September we'll be where we need to be," he said.