Should the Vikings Let K.J. Osborn Walk in Free Agency?

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) carries the ball for an incomplete touchdown during the first half of the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL offseason approaches, teams face tough decisions regarding their roster.

For the Minnesota Vikings, one such decision involves wide receiver K.J. Osborn. While Osborn has shown promise, is it time for Minnesota to let the receiver walk in free agency?

Should the Vikings Let K.J. Osborn Go in Free Agency?

K.J. Osborn
Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Despite receiving ample opportunities during the 2023 season, Osborn failed to deliver consistent production. He finished the season with 48 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns per Pro Football Reference. These numbers fall short of what the Vikings need from their second or third wide receiver, especially considering the talent around him. The team requires a more explosive and impactful option to complement their offensive scheme.

Another aspect that works against Osborn is his limited versatility. He primarily operates as a slot receiver and has struggled to make an impact in other areas of the game. This lack of versatility limits the Vikings’ offensive options and makes it easier for opposing defenses to game plan against him.

To maximize their offensive potential, the Vikings need a receiver who can excel in multiple positions and create mismatches. A true weapon at the third receiver spot would open up more opportunities for star wideouts Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison.

Osborn Has Struggled With Inconsistency

Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates during the fourth quarter against Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

One area of concern with Osborn is his inconsistent hands. Throughout the season, he had several drops that stalled drives and cost the Vikings valuable yardage. According to PFF, the fourth-year wide receiver was credited with seven drops in 2023, which led the team. In the NFL, reliability is crucial, and dropped passes can be detrimental to a team’s success. The Vikings need a receiver who can consistently catch the ball and move the chains when it matters most.

Allowing Osborn to walk in free agency opens up the opportunity for the Vikings to explore other options. With a deep pool of talent available in free agency, the team can target receivers who bring more to the table than Osborn currently does.

According to Spotrac, couple options with similar market value are wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Josh Reynolds. Both of these receivers have been reliable targets for their respective teams. Adding either of these weapons would bolster the Vikings receiving core. This potential upgrade would provide the Vikings with a chance to give their offense an added boost.

Parting ways with Osborn would also provide the Vikings with financial flexibility. As the team looks to address other areas of need and potentially make key acquisitions, having extra cap space is essential. By letting Osborn walk, the Vikings can allocate those funds towards positions that require immediate attention or invest in long-term prospects. A couple positions the Vikings will likely focus on, are in the secondary and the defensive line. Two units that could really use an upgrade.

Questions Answered: Osborn as Eventual WR2, No Kicker Battle, Hairston Back
Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports.

While Osborn has shown glimpses of potential and has been a solid pass-catcher, the Minnesota Vikings would be wise to let him walk in free agency. The team needs a more consistent and versatile receiver to elevate their offense and compete at a higher level. By exploring other options and utilizing their financial flexibility, the Vikings can make strategic moves that enhance their roster and increase their chances of success in the upcoming season.

The Vikings may look to also keep receiver Brandon Powell around as another option, as he had a very good season working as primarily the fourth wideout. Powell returns punts as well, so Minnesota may want to keep him around for his versatility. Either way, the team has a decision to make on who they will employ as the team’s third receiver in 2024.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference.