One Popular Viking Has Basically Disappeared

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2023 season, the Minnesota Vikings had all wide receiver bases covered. Assuming Jordan Addison would be at least mildly productive as a rookie, the WR room was one of the depth chart’s hot spots.

One Popular Viking Has Basically Disappeared

And while that’s still true to an extent, one popular Vikings playmaker has basically disappeared.

Somewhere along the line, K.J. Osborn became a nonfactor.

Viking Has Basically
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There’s no real rhyme or reason for it, but Osborn’s production has steadily slowed to a screeching halt in the last several games. The soon-to-be free-agent wideout has also been plagued by drops in 2023, some at highly inopportune game junctures.

The Vikings drafted Osborn from the University of Miami in 2020 during an era where fans clamored — begged, even — for a reasonable WR3. Jarius Wright departed a few seasons prior, and after he left, Minnesota auditioned men like Bisi Johnson for the WR3 gig, to no consistent avail.

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 12
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Osborn wasn’t utilized on offense as a rookie, but during the summer of 2021, the young playmaker burst onto the scene at training camp and in the preseason. Soon after, the arrival translated to a regular season field, and alas, the Vikings had unearthed a WR3 after a long, painstaking search and drought.

To be clear, the man isn’t wholly ineffective or terrible this season; he’s just vanished as of late. And the circumstance wasn’t timely because Justin Jefferson missed seven games in October and November.

Viking Has Everything
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

These are Osborn’s stats from the last six games:

  • W9 | vs. Saints = 2 Rec, 17 Yds
  • W10 | Injured
  • W11 | at Broncos = 1 Rec, 7 Yds
  • W12 | vs. Bears = 3 Rec, 34 Yds
  • W14 | at Raiders = 4 Rec, 15 Yds
  • W15 | at Bengals = 1 Rec, 3 Yds

The timing couldn’t be worse for Osborn personally, either. He’s scheduled to hit free agency in 2.5 months, and a strong finish to 2023 could’ve fetched the 26-year-old a fat second contract. Now, that forecast is gravely in doubt.

K.J. Osborn Does It Again
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Four months ago, Vikings fans debated the identity of the WR2 — Osborn or Addison? That discussion is now laughable, as Addison is markedly more productive, even during his maiden voyage season.

Of course, Osborn always arrives with at least one monster or clutch game per season. He’s due. Overdue, in fact. Perhaps it’ll arrive on Christmas Eve against the Detroit Lions.

All told, Osborn is on pace for 50 receptions, 529 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns, which would mark his quietest season since 2020.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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