There’s a Lot on the Line For 1 Vikings Receiver

Vikings Lower than Preseason Expectations in PFF WR Rankings  
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17), wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18), and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Some Vikings players are under a lot of pressure in the upcoming season. The possible departure of Dalvin Cook would give Alexander Mattison finally a chance to be the lead back of the team but that comes with added pressure to perform well. Free agent signing Marcus Davenport, a player who has struggled with injuries in his five-year career, must stay healthy and play at a high level to earn another big paycheck next season after signing a one-year prove-it deal.

There’s a Lot on the Line For 1 Vikings Receiver

a Lot on the Line
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) warms up wearing a shirt honoring Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin (3) before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

In a similar situation is wide receiver K.J. Osborn, who enters the final year of his rookie contract. The 2020 fifth-round selection has been a wonderful contributor to the team over the last couple of seasons after a slow start in his debut season. He didn’t play on offense that year and was only used as a kick returner; a job that he was not good at.

His breakout came in training camp during 2021 when he wowed his coaches and teammates. Since that time, he has been the third option in the passing game behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Minnesota had waited a long time to finally find a decent third wideout.

In the last couple of seasons, Osborn recorded 655 yards in 2021 and 650 in 2022 and he scored 12 receiving touchdowns. Thielen is no longer on the team, so Osborn saw his chance to become the second starting receiver of the team. However, the selection of first-round receiver Jordan Addison jeopardized that idea. He is a talented player and isn’t expected to take long until he slips into the starting lineup.

Viking Has Everything
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

However, that would be harmful to Osborn’s prospects of signing a lucrative contract next offseason. He has one more year to prove that he can be a WR2 and not just a WR3 in the NFL.

In 2022, Osborn was 83rd of 102 eligible wide receivers in yards per route run, a metric that shows how efficient a receiver is.

Allen Lazard signed with the Jets for $11 million annually, Robert Woods will make more than $7 million per year, and Adam Thielen $8.3 million. All of those players are capable WR2s but Thielen and Woods are past their primes and Lazard is not a threat to suddenly rack up gigantic receiving numbers.

Osborn needs one season in the 800-1,000 yard range, and he will break the bank next offseason considering his age. He will turn 26 in June. There’s a high demand for a competent receiver in today’s pass-heavy NFL.

2023 Win Forecast
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) before an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Rookie Jordan Addison has recently been out because of a minor injury. That could slow down his development and keep Osborn in the lineup. However, another threat emerged to take away some of his snap. Last year’s rookie Jalen Nailor has been fantastic in OTAs.

Osborn’s advantage over both young guys Nailor and Addison is his experience and he should be entering his prime. The fourth-year receiver needs to defend the starting spot and have a productive season to be a popular name in next year’s free agency period.

There’s little reporting during OTAs because they aren’t open to the public but Osborn appears to have a good offseason based on the comments of head coach Kevin O’Connell who titled him a “real standout all spring.”


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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