Fan-Favorite Viking Formally Says Goodbye

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On March 19th, the New England Patriots locked in a one-year, $4 million deal with former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn, ending a four-year run in the Twin Cities.

Fan-Favorite Viking Formally Says Goodbye

Without Osborn, Minnesota presumptively has Jalen Nailor, Brandon Powell, and Trent Sherfield on deck for WR3 duties, although a rookie WR3 candidate could be added from the draft in 2.5 weeks.

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Meanwhile, this week, Osborn formally said goodbye to Vikings fans on Instagram, posting this tribute Monday morning:

Life after Minnesota begins in the AFC for Osborn, who spent his whole rookie contract with the Vikings. The University of Miami alumnus emerged into prominence out of nowhere during the summer of 2021 after a rather quiet rookie year during the pandemic season. In fact, the Vikings didn’t use Osborn on offense at all as a rookie, but he blossomed at training camp the following season.

And then the veteran playmaker stuck around through the end of 2023, mostly used as a WR3. What’s more, Osborn’s arrival on the scene was of the utmost importance for Minnesota. For about four seasons, the Vikings “never really seemed to care” about WR3, nominating players like Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe for the task. But when Osborn seized the job in 2021, the purple team finally employed an honest-to-goodness third wideout.

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Osborn snatched 48 receptions for 540 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2023. The year was pretty standard in Osborn’s world, though the touchdown numbers dipped.

With Jordan Addison’s rapid ascension to WR2, Osborn could grab more money on the open market than the Vikings were willing to deliver. Moreover, Osborn was not drafted by this front office and coaching staff, meaning he evidently was not a priority to re-sign.

Viking Has Everything
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When it was all said and done in free agency, it became clear the moment Minnesota drafted Addison, Osborn’s days were numbered in Minnesota.

This is the Patriots’ WR room at the moment:

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Kendrick Bourne
  • DeMario Douglas
  • K.J. Osborn
  • Jalen Reagor
  • Tyquan Thornton
  • Kayshon Boutte
  • T.J. Luther
  • Kawaan Baker

New England also has the chance to improve the group β€” markedly β€” by drafting Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. later this month. The Patriots own the draft’s third overall pick, a prime spot for Harrison Jr. Jerod Mayo’s team also needs a quarterback, so Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye could make sense at No. 3, too.

Lord Have Mercy. What Is This Team?
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Osborn authored a handful of memorable moments as a Viking. This one versus the Panthers in 2021 might be the best:

Or this one:

This one, too:

And don’t forget his theatrics during the largest comeback in NFL history:

Osborn will turn 27 in June.

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