Source: Pats, ex-Vikes WR Osborn agree to deal

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The New England Patriots filled a need at wide receiver by agreeing to a one-year contract with K.J. Osborn, a source told ESPN on Sunday.

The Patriots had made an aggressive free agent pitch to receiver Calvin Ridley before he decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Even after adding Osborn, the expectation is that New England still hopes to upgrade at receiver, perhaps looking to the draft. NFL scouts view the position as one of the deepest and most talented this year, and the Patriots own the No. 3 pick, in addition to selections near the top of the second (No. 34), third (No. 68) and fourth (No. 103) rounds.

Osborn joins a depth chart that is topped by veterans JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Reagor, as well as promising slot receiver Demario “Pop” Douglas (2022 sixth-round pick).

The Vikings drafted Osborn just four rounds after selecting Justin Jefferson in 2020, and he did not begin seeing regular playing time on offense until midway through the 2021 season. Osborn first broke through as a target in the Vikings’ two-minute drills that season, and his production there prompted quarterback Kirk Cousins to suggest a full-time role in the scheme.

Osborn spent the next 1½ seasons as the Vikings’ No. 3 receiver, behind Jefferson and Adam Thielen, catching 110 passes for 1,255 yards and 12 touchdowns over that span.

Thielen’s departure after the 2022 season opened the door for Osborn as a potential starter next to Jefferson, but the Vikings were simultaneously thinking of a longer-term solution. They drafted Jordan Addison with the No. 23 overall pick in 2023, giving them a chance to pair Jefferson with a more explosive (and cheaper) receiver.

Osborn, 26, started a career-high 12 games last season but had 33 fewer targets than Addison. In all, Osborn finished 2023 with his lowest season totals in catches (48), yards (540) and touchdowns (3) since his rookie campaign.

The news of Osborn’s agreement was first reported by NFL Network.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss and Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.

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