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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Thu Apr 18 - 11:55 AM

Report: Patriots Add Free-Agent Wide Receiver K.J. Osborn

The Patriots are reportedly adding the former Vikings wide receiver on a one-year deal. 

WR K.J. Osborn
WR K.J. Osborn

The Patriots continued bolstering their depth offensively by signing former Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn to a one-year contract, according to NFL Network.

After being selected in the fifth round by the Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft, Osborn has emerged as a complementary receiver in Minnesota's West Coast offense, which is similar to the offense the Patriots will run under new coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Osborn's production has been steady, with 655, 650, and 540 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns in the last three seasons.

Osborn has primarily played as a Z-slot receiver, with his most targeted routes being crossers, digs, and hitch routes. Osborn has decent speed to run away from coverage horizontally and is well-seasoned in finding soft spots in zone coverage between the numbers. 

From this perspective, Osborn offers the Patriots an insurance policy in the "Z" role with wideout Kendrick Bourne coming off an ACL injury. Although he's optimistic about his recovery, Bourne tore his ACL in the Patriots loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 29, 2023. That could mean a slower ramp-up for Bourne heading into the 2024 season, while Osborn could also factor in on three-receiver sets as the third receiver with inside-outside versatility to line up in various spots. 

Many in Minnesota viewed the 26-year-old as a capable third receiver, so we wouldn't rule out Osborn having a role alongside a healthy Bourne and, hopefully, an impact rookie. The Patriots have a solid WR2-4 brewing on the depth chart with Bourne, Osborn, and second-year wideout Demario Douglas. However, as has been the case for several years, the Patriots are still searching for that coverage-dictating top receiver to open up their offense. 

After striking out on prize free agent Calvin Ridley, New England's primary focus is adding a high-impact playmaker via a loaded draft class. There's still the possibility of a trade for a veteran, such as Cincinnati's Tee Higgins, among others. But the most likely path is through the draft. Most expect the Patriots to target a quarterback with the third overall pick, which could mean they'll use pick No. 34 or No. 68 to target a wideout with number-one receiver potential. 

New England added a solid role player by reportedly agreeing to terms with Osborn. However, like all their external free-agent additions to this point, the Patriots are still searching for difference-makers on offense.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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