Vikings Rumors: Pace Stealing Jobs, Sayonara Starters, & The Jaren Hall Promotion

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Though we’re now into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors aren’t as abundant, we’ll still be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the UDFA linebacker who is stealing jobs, the Vikings heading toward a future where they say goodbye to several starters, and the potential for Jaren Hall to get a promotion.

Vikings Rumors: 12.13.2023

Rumor #1 — Ivan Pace is Playing his Teammates Out of Their Jobs

No doubt. The UDFA has been incredible, and that has resulted in several other players seeing their roles minimized.

The most obvious player being impacted is Brian Asamoah. The sophomore linebacker was supposed to be a starter but has instead been an afterthought. More often than not, he’s on the bench when the defense takes the field, only getting into the game for Matt Daniels and the special teams.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Barr didn’t get elevated for the Raiders game, but nobody seemed to notice. Instead, Pace picked up 100% of the defensive snaps (54 total) while Troy Dye got worked into the mix for 8 snaps. Otherwise, Nick Vigil picked up some special teams snaps to go alongside Asamoah.

One even wonders if Jordan Hicks will see his role changed after returning from injury. Against Las Vegas, Ivan Pace put together 13 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and the game-sealing interception. Replicating that kind of performance in the coming weeks will mean he’s impossible to take off the field.

As a whole, Pace is up to 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception. He has played 515 snaps with the defense — 61% of the total — while starting 9 out of 13 games. Not bad for someone who (apparently) wasn’t good enough to be drafted.

Rumor #2 — The Vikings Will Soon Say Goodbye to Several of Their Starters

Almost certainly. The Vikings have four regular season games remaining. Some guys are playing their final games in purple.

K.J. Osborn is going to be a free agent in March. More than likely, the wide receiver will be looking for a pretty decent payday. He’ll be 27 in the summer, so he won’t have too many more chances of securing some good money in the NFL. Very possible his days are coming to an end in Minnesota.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Terell Smith (32) defends Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Harrison Smith is on a collision course with a roster cut. He’s going into 2024 with a cap charge a touch beyond $19.2 million. Minnesota possesses great depth and youth at safety, so paying the soon-to-be 35-year-old Smith doesn’t make a ton of sense (his birthday is on February 2nd). Maybe the two sides can agree to an adjusted deal.

One also thinks of Jordan Hicks. Will Brandon Powell be a priority to retain? Harrison Phillips will have a sizable cap charge — close to $9 million — so the team may consider some sort of move. Dean Lowry underwhelmed with the Vikings; cutting him would free up $2.2 million in cap space. And what about the top names: Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter? Both will soon be free agents.

Decisions aplenty for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, especially since we didn’t even mention names like Marcus Davenport, D.J. Wonnum, Josh Dobbs, and several others.

Rumor #3 — Jaren Hall May Soon Get a Promotion

The rookie ventured into Week 14 as the QB3. A disastrous effort from Josh Dobbs may result in the rookie being the QB2 in Week 15.

The QB domino effect could come out in full force. Nick Mullens is a near guarantee to be named as the starter. Will Kevin O’Connell then place Josh Dobbs at QB2 or QB3? The main backup is, by definition, a single snap away from getting inserted into the game. In other words, the coaching staff would be wise to ensure they have a hearty amount of confidence in whoever is the next man up.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Who inspires more confidence at this point in time: Josh Dobbs or Jaren Hall?

The Brian Flores defense has been playing marvellous football. Lately, Minnesota’s offense has only needed to be average to win football games. Nailing the QB spot, of course, is the most consequential part of getting into that modest category.

Expect Nick Mullens to be the main man on Saturday when the Vikings get into their showdown with the Bengals, and don’t be at all surprised if Jaren Hall is the main backup.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.