PALM BEACH, FLA. — On March 13, the Vikings gave Kirk Cousins a one-year contract extension and a no-trade clause, ending for now the trade talks they'd had about the quarterback and effectively guaranteeing him a fifth season as the team's starter.

If Cousins starts all 17 games this fall, he will tie Daunte Culpepper for the third-most regular-season starts by a quarterback in Vikings history, ranking behind only Fran Tarkenton and Tommy Kramer. He will again operate an offense familiar to him and work with a strong cast of a skill position players.

Perhaps for the first time as a starting quarterback, though, Cousins will take snaps confident his relationship with his head coach is on solid footing.

People who know both men have described a strong connection between Cousins and Kevin O'Connell, dating to when the Vikings' new coach was Cousins' final position coach in Washington during the 2017 season. O'Connell is well-acquainted with Cousins' fondness for process that distills clear expectations of what a play is supposed to accomplish.

As O'Connell met reporters at the NFL owners' meetings Tuesday, speaking publicly for the first time since Cousins signed his extension, the coach said he wants to lean on clear directives in the week leading up to a game, not second-guessing afterward.

"It's like when we talk about the absence of communication, some negativity can seep in. In the absence of structure, a lot of questioning can sneak in," O'Connell said. "And that's our job ahead of time. If you're running a lot of plays where you don't definitively know, 'This is what we want to happen,' that leaves too much gray area in my opinion. Throughout the week, we get a lot of credit for the hours that we work.

"Hopefully we're spending those hours clearly defining a plan of attack for not only Kirk but our entire offense: for Justin [Jefferson] and Adam [Thielen] and K.J. [Osborn] in how they run routes, for Dalvin [Cook] in how we want him to see the progression on holes, and then ultimately not over-coaching these guys so that you walk the fine line of letting your playmakers make plays, but also giving that clear identity from a coach in how you want it to look."

O'Connell has been on the other side. He's one of four current NFL coaches to play quarterback in the league, Arizona's Kliff Kingsbury, Jacksonville's Doug Pederson and Indianapolis' Frank Reich being the others. O'Connell began his career with Tom Brady and Matt Cassel after the Patriots took him in the third round in 2008, and spent time with six teams over the next four years before he began his coaching career in 2015.

The experience, he said, helps him appreciate how complex an NFL quarterback's job can be.

"Kirk's played a lot of football, and with that comes the experience of understanding what those razor-thin margins of error really look like," O'Connell said. "A lot of times, I've been guilty of it plenty, holding the clicker in my hands the next day asking, 'Why, why, why,' but you've got to look at it from the lens of that quarterback: Realistically, what was the best possible outcome on this play, did we coach it to see that outcome within the rhythm and timing of the play, and then ultimately what was the end result? But never the result first.

"You talk to Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees over the years and those guys will tell you that sometimes maybe the best result from a play comes from checking it down or throwing the ball away and not taking a sack in the red zone. But all those situations, more so than just who is open, when they're open, all those situations play into that the best quarterbacks in this league are processing and do it really well each and every snap. That's what we'll start working with Kirk on from Day 1 and I know he's excited about it."

For the Vikings to end a two-year playoff drought, and for Cousins to make himself the team's longest-tenured quarterback in more than a quarter-century, a connection with his new head coach seems to be a central part of the plan.

Co-owner Mark Wilf said the relationship between O'Connell and Cousins was a "big determinant" in the contract the Vikings gave the quarterback.

"He's worked a lot with quarterbacks," Wilf said of O'Connell. "He understands the position. He understands Kirk. They understand each other, they know each other. [It's] that communication, that feeling of comfort that we're going to get even better play out of, not just the quarterback position, but the entire offense. That certainly plays into it."