Get your "Huit-cinq" or "Quatre-vingt-cinq" (depending on whether you prefer a literal "eight-five" or an actual "eighty-five") jerseys ready; the chances of Chad Johnson (previously Chad Ochocinco) coming to the CFL's Montreal Alouettes have risen substantially. Johnson initially expressed interest in joining the B.C. Lions last month, but GM Wally Buono shot that idea down; Montreal general manager Jim Popp then added Johnson to the Alouettes' negotiation list. Things have progressed since then, with Popp saying Saturday that Johnson will work out for the team (which is holding open tryouts in Vero Beach, Florida) this week:
"We do expect to meet with Chad Johnson and work him out in Vero Beach, Fla., this week," Popp said. "Talks did take place and have escalated over the last week."
Johnson played 11 seasons in the NFL, the first 10 with Cincinnati. He last played in 2011 with New England, when he had 15 catches for 276 yards.
The 36-year-old Los Angeles native confirmed on Twitter late Friday that he was planning to attend a mini-camp Tuesday for some on-field work.
Most interestingly, CBS' Jason LaCanfora issued a series of tweets Saturday afternoon about Johnson's chances and how he's been working with Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter, a current ESPN analyst and father of Als' receiver Duron Carter:
There are some valuable points there from LaCanfora, and they illustrate how the Alouettes may view Johnson. They're likely not expecting him to be the deep burner he was early in his career, but possibly more of a veteran route-runner and a guy who can make crucial catches. There could be an opening there, as the team released fellow 36-year-old veteran Arland Bruce earlier this year following his homophobic comments on Twitter. While the Als have plenty of other proven and promising receivers, including Carter, S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson and Brandon London, Bruce caught 64 balls for 851 yards (fifteenth in the CFL) last season, so there could be some passes up for grabs now that he's gone. The news that Johnson's working out with Carter and that the Alouettes have received reports on where he's at is also interesting; this won't be just a blind look or an attention-grabbing stunt from Johnson, but a serious evaluation from the team.
Of course, there would be further hurdles ahead. Johnson would need a passport and a permit to work in Canada, and given his history with the law (he pleaded no contest to domestic battery, violated his probation and served 30 days in jail), that could be difficult. Moreover, the team might be leery of bringing in someone with that sort of history (that's reportedly a big part of what kept B.C. away). Even if those aren't issues for the Alouettes, Johnson is 36, hasn't played in a game since 2011, and has no experience with the CFL game. While he's probably worth taking a look at, he's unlikely to beat out younger Montreal players for a roster spot unless he can prove to be a major upgrade over what they have.
The Alouettes do have a long history of bringing in former NFL veterans, though, and some worked out quite well at least for a while, including Lawrence Phillips, Robert Edward and Jarrett Payton. However, others (such as Ahman Green, Quincy Carter and JaJuan Dawson) didn't last long in the CFL at all. Johnson's certainly a big name and a guy with a history of NFL success, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll shine north of the border. He seems to still have some skill, though, so you can't rule him out completely. We'll see whether he becomes a NFL vet who succeeds in Canada, or one of the many who couldn't make the jump. Still, who wouldn't love an Alouettes' jersey with "Quatre-vignt-cinq" on the back?