Rams might have just cut the perfect K.J. Osborn replacement for Vikings

Former Los Angeles Rams WR Ben Skowronek
Former Los Angeles Rams WR Ben Skowronek / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Earlier this offseason, veteran wide receiver K.J. Osborn became a free agent after spending the last four years with the Minnesota Vikings. Osborn was a solid part of Minnesota's offense during his tenure with the team, so it wasn't surprising to see him eventually land a one-year deal with the New England Patriots.

With his departure, though, the Vikings are in need of a new No. 3 receiver for the 2024 season, and if the team isn't satisfied with giving the role to any of the current pass-catchers on their roster, a new candidate might have just been made available.

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport on Thursday, the Los Angeles Rams are reportedly going to release veteran wide receiver Ben Skowronek. Selected by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Skowronek has appeared in 45 games during his three seasons in the league.

Ben Skowronek could potentially help Minnesota Vikings replace K.J. Osborn

During his rookie year with Los Angeles in 2021, Skowronek was part of the roster that helped the team defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. The offensive coordinator for the Rams during that Super Bowl win, of course, was current Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell.

Back during the middle of the 2021 season, when both were with Los Angeles, O'Connell had the following to say about Skowronek.

"He's a guy that, normally, when you see Cooper Kupp walking around the building, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ben right behind him, in meetings sitting next to him, even when the quarterbacks meet sometimes, Cooper's in there a lot [and] I'll walk in and see Ben in there.

He's just done a tremendous job. I learned a long time ago as a rookie, it's better to be seen and not heard. He's really been like that from a standpoint of just being a sponge. Then when he's called upon and you really don't know [if he knows] what to do, he's checked that box every single time.

Then oh, by the way, there's a reason he's here. When you evaluate him before the draft, [he's got] the talent, he's strong, his size, catches the ball real well in a contested-catch sitution. So he's brought a lot of really good things that I think [shows he can offer more than] just filling in; he can actually provide some elements for us as a bonus to [our veteran receivers]."

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, Skowronek could add a size element to Minnesota's wide receiver room that Osborn couldn't provide during his time with the team.

During his rookie season with O'Connell as his offensive coordinator in Los Angeles, Skowronek only caught 11 passes for 133 yards and no touchdowns. However, he was also behind receivers like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr., and Van Jefferson on the Rams' depth chart.

After Beckham and Woods didn't remain with the team after the 2021 season and Kupp missed eight games due to injury in 2022, Skowronek had a much more productive performance during his second year with the Rams. In 14 appearances during the 2022 season, he finished with 39 catches for 376 yards.

Despite his play reaching a higher level in 2022, his numbers and offensive snaps went down dramatically last season. Skowronek did appear in all 17 of Los Angeles' games during the 2023 campaign, but he only caught eight passes for 66 yards and one touchdown, and his offensive snap rate dropped down to 19 percent after he was on the field for 82 percent of the team's offensive snaps in 2022.

If Skowronek were to reunite with O'Connell in Minnesota, could the former Rams offensive coordinator find a way to get the receiver to produce like he did out on the field in 2022, or were his numbers during that season more of a fluke than anything else?

*Update: Shortly after it was reported that the Rams were going to release him, the team actually ended up trading Skowronek to the Houston Texans instead, according to a report from NFL Media's Tom Pelissero on Thursday.

More Vikings News and Analysis