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Vikings’ K.J. Osborn eyes future as FBI agent, embraces ‘chess piece’ role alongside Justin Jefferson in 2023

EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson gets the headlines, and Jordan Addison is the superstar’s most anticipated running mate. But another Vikings wide receiver, fourth-year veteran K.J. Osborn, prides himself on being the “chess piece” of coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense going into 2023. He’s also got even more dynamic plans for after his playing career: becoming an FBI agent.

“I think it still is serious,” Osborn told CBS Sports of his little-known dream to fight crime. “I don’t know about (the) Secret Service anymore, because I don’t know how secret I can be. I didn’t really watch much TV growing up. I watched ESPN. But one show I did watch was ‘The First 48.’ That was kinda like (a) detective (show). I liked that, (and) then I’m getting my master’s in criminal justice. We’ll see how long I play (yet). I’ve got a test left to finish up, so I’ll finish that up and at least give myself the option.”

At 26, of course, Osborn’s NFL career may just be getting started. In fact, even after logging at least 50 catches, 650 yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, sometimes the former fifth-round pick feels he’s under-recognized league-wide.

“Yeah, I do feel like that,” he said with a smile, “but I mean, that stuff isn’t important. At the end of the day, it’s about what I’m doing for my teammates and this organization. People talk however they want to, but as long as we’re winning games, all that stuff doesn’t really matter.”

It’s the kind of attitude that’s quietly made Osborn a favorite of O’Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who no longer has 10-year Vikings veteran Adam Thielen as a safety valve opposite Jefferson. While Addison, this year’s first-round pick, has what Osborn calls “silky” footwork and route-running — the kind of tools that should help him open his rookie season as a starter — it’s Osborn who figures to enter 2023 with a wider range of responsibilities.

“I think my ability to be a chess piece (is my greatest attribute),” Osborn said. “I feel like I do a lot in the offense, whether it be inside, outside, in the pass game, in the run game. Finding voids in coverages. I think my IQ, my versatility (is key).”

The former Miami product has also been a behind-the-scenes mentor for Jefferson, who’s widely considered one of, if not the, best pass catcher in the game. The latter was predictably the fan favorite of Monday’s practice at TCO Performance Center, joining teammates only after sideline visits with fans of all ages. Osborn believes his star counterpart has matured every year.

“I think just knowing who he is, knowing his role as far as, he’s the guy with the headlines always on him, he’s an influence, there’s a bunch of kids looking up to him,” Osborn said, “and being Justin, who he is, he can’t turn that off, like, on and off the field. He’s Justin Jefferson everywhere he goes. And being a close friend to him, I’ve seen him grow and realize his role and what God has blessed him with, stewarding that (gift) every single day. Being a leader on and off the field. I think he’s doing it really well.”

Jefferson has already been the subject of bold predictions for 2023, with some betting he’ll make history as a 2,000-yard receiver. Osborn, meanwhile, is just focused on doing his part. If it doesn’t lead to gaudy numbers or worldwide accolades, so be it. Besides, there’s always that FBI dream for down the road.



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