Vikings’ GM aims to address critical issues as $15 Million Playmaker Poised to Leave for AFC Contender…

Minnesota Vikings’ Emerging Star Poised for Departure, AFC Contenders in the Mix.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn, a former fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft, is on the verge of leaving the team in 2024 after displaying remarkable growth in his career. Despite not catching a pass in his rookie year, Osborn has become a consistent performer, averaging 615 yards receiving and scoring 15 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

Set to hit free agency for the first time in March, Osborn’s impressive statistics and the Vikings’ other pressing roster needs make it likely that he will receive enticing offers that could lead to his departure. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has identified the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens as potential landing spots for Osborn. PFF’s cap expert, Brad Spielberger, acknowledges Osborn’s versatility in playing both in the slot and outside, considering him a valuable WR3/4, despite facing some untimely drops in 2023.

Spotrac projects Osborn to secure a two-year, $15.13 million contract in free agency, a figure that might be beyond the Vikings’ budget for a fourth passing option. The emergence of first-round rookie Jordan Addison and the rise of Brandon Powell could influence the Vikings to make efforts to retain Powell at a more affordable rate.

Osborn’s fate began to unfold last offseason when the Vikings, confident in his abilities, moved on from veteran Adam Thielen, whose role diminished with the arrival of T.J. Hockenson. However, the spotlight shifted to Jordan Addison, the 23rd overall pick from the previous year, who quickly asserted himself as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Justin Jefferson. Addison’s stellar performance and the team’s commitment to him make it evident that Osborn’s role may decrease in the upcoming seasons.

Spotrac’s projection of Osborn’s contract highlights the financial challenge for the Vikings, especially considering their top needs in the 2024 NFL Draft. Coming off a disappointing 7-10 season with quarterback Kirk Cousins absent for the final nine games due to a ruptured Achilles, the Vikings are in a tight spot with cap space and decisions to make on 15 key contributors.

In the upcoming draft, the Vikings aim to address critical positions on defense, such as edge rusher, interior defensive line, and cornerback, with the hope of securing an impact first-rounder. While continuity and budget free-agent additions have been part of the Vikings’ recent rebuilding strategy, the draft, coupled with the development of 2022 and 2023 draftees, will play a crucial role in determining the team’s readiness to compete or consider taking a step back under the new regime.

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