Another year, another former National Football League star is potentially Montreal-bound.
Ex-NFL wide receiver Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson will be at the Alouettes’ mini-camp in Vero Beach, Florida, this coming week and is expected to work out with the team, general manager Jim Popp said in a statement on Saturday.
And it may not end there.
“Talks did take place and have escalated over the last week,” he said in the official release.
Whether Johnson and the Alouettes come together on a contract remains to be seen but Popp’s interest in the one-time NFL veteran isn’t much of a surprise. In past seasons, the GM has inked the likes of Lawrence Phillips, Ahman Green and, just last season, Dominic Rhodes, among others. In most instances, however, the splashy signings haven’t lasted; Green and Rhodes were cut before the regular season started. And while Phillips stayed on the roster in 2002, it was his lone season in Montreal.
The Alouettes are known for their deep receiving corps, a unit that includes Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green, Brandon London and Duron Carter. There is a potential import opening with the team having released Arland Bruce III earlier in the off-season.
Johnson, 36, hasn’t played a professional football game since 2011, when he appeared in 15 games for the New England Patriots. That season marked his first not in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform, the team he called home from 2001 to 2010. In 2012, he was signed by the Miami Dolphins but released before the season after he was arrested for domestic battery.
While the CFL will be a new venture for Johnson – whether it goes beyond mini-camp or not – there will be a touch of familiarity when he hits the field for the first time. Alouettes linebacker Kyries Hebert was a teammate on the Bengals in 2008 and 2009.
It likely won’t take long for the veteran to get to know his potential future teammates, with several Alouettes taking to Twitter to share their excitement.
“There are 3 WRs I've dreamt about breaking the huddle w/ in my career. @JerryRice @terrellowens and @ochocinco 1/3 Aint bad! #WhatupOCHO,” London wrote.
“[T]hat surreal feeling when you findout (sic) your boyhood idol could be playing on the same squad as you! @ochocinco the reason why I wore 85!” tweeted non-import receiver Geoff Coventry.
Montreal’s mini-camp gets under way on Tuesday evening and runs through Thursday morning. The Alouettes open the 2014 regular season on June 28 in Calgary.