K.J. Osborn’s Vikings Chapter Is Officially Closed

Viking Has Everything
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As the offseason circus is moving on in the NFL, many players depart from old organizations and find new homes somewhere else. With Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, Vikings fans had to say goodbye to a pair of staples of the organization and it will be strange to watch the team play without them. The 2020 draft class entered the free-agent market after their rookie contracts had expired.

K.J. Osborn’s Vikings Chapter Is Officially Closed

D.J. Wonnum signed for two seasons in Carolina, joining Adam Thielen on the roster after starting 31 games over the last four seasons. Added to the roster on day three of his draft, he surprisingly turned into a significant contributor on the defense.

K.J. Osborn's Vikings Chapter Officially Closed
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Another player who exceeded draft expectations is K.J. Osborn, a fifth-round receiver out of Buffalo and Miami. General manager Rick Spielman paired him with Justin Jefferson as the two incoming rookie wideouts following the departure of Stefon Diggs.

Four years later, Osborn will head to New England, joining the new regime and former Viking Jalen Reagor with whom he shared a WR room in 2022. The Patriots now employ a bunch of wideouts without having a top guy in the building.

  • Kawaan Baker
  • Kendrick Bourne
  • Kayshon Boutte
  • DeMario Douglas
  • T.J. Luther
  • K.J. Osborn
  • Jalen Reagor
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Tyquan Thornton
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Osborn has a chance to carve out a large role in that group, especially because perhaps the best one on the list, Kendrick Bourne, is recovering from a torn ACL.

The 26-year-old had a shaky career start as he was primarily used as a special teams player without logging a single snap on offense in his debut season. Unfortunately, he wasn’t particularly good at it and lost the return gigs in the 2021 offseason.

A receiver without any impact on offense who had just lost his return jobs? Many Vikings fans and reporters entertained the thought of him ending up on the chopping block but surprisingly, Osborn had an impressive training camp, earning the vacant WR3 job behind Adam Thielen and fellow sophomore Jefferson.

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In the last three seasons, Osborn caught 158 passes in 59 games for 1,845 yards and 15 touchdowns. Especially remarkable was his consistency as he recorded between 500-700 yards in all three campaigns.

A couple of times a year, Osborn turned into much more than a third fiddle. Many remember his fantastic game in 2022 when he single-handily sparked the greatest comeback in NFL history, catching ten passes for 157 yards and one touchdown — all career highs.

Also unforgettable is his game-winning touchdown in overtime versus the Carolina Panthers in 2021. He finished that day with six catches for 78 yards and that score.

The four-year Viking experienced some problems in 2023, dropping unusually many passes but he still tabulated 48 receptions for 540 yards. That production has not been replaced yet. Brandon Powell was re-signed and Trent Sherfield will join him on the depth chart but neither has ever matched Osborn’s production.

purple rumor mill
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It remains to be seen which passer will throw to Osborn in 2024 and beyond as the Patriots currently have Jacoby Brissett under contract but hold the third overall pick. That pick is relevant to the Vikings as it could be a spot to trade up for.

If the Patriots want to pass on the QB position and address multiple weaknesses on the roster by trading down, the Vikings could select the QB3 in April.

The receiver has made some national waves when the saved a person from a burning car wreck.

Osborn’s exit will not only leave a mark on the field but also in the locker room as he is generally known as a great guy to be around. Not only the mentioned hero story is noticeable but also the many anecdotes from teammates, reporters, and fans who praise him for his character.

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