Former NFL superstar, Chad Johnson, has his eyes on the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Out of football since 2012, the 36-year-old will reportedly workout at the team’s minicamp in Vero Beach, Florida next week. He last played for the Miami Dolphins and was released in August of 2012 amid a firestorm of controversy after he was arrested and charged with domestic violence for allegedly head-butting his wife at the time, Evelyn Lozada. He served one week of a 30-day sentence.
The colorful, six-time pro bowl receiver, who went by the name Ochocinco for part of his NFL career, has had no suitors since being cut by the Dolphins. Johnson’s production fell off the map during his last couple seasons in the league and many believed that at 34, his prime had long since come and gone. In 2011, he was acquired by the New England Patriots in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, with whom he had spent his entire ten years in the league. It would go down as Johnson’s least productive season by far. After leading the AFC in receiving yards in 2003 and 2005, and the entire NFL in 2006, his time with New England was a complete bust. He caught 15 passes for 276 yards and 1 touchdown, ensuring that his three-year, $6.35 million contract would end after just one season.
On Friday night, Johnson took to Twitter to spread the word about his tryout with Montreal.
“Taking my ugly a** to Canada, routes just wasting away at home,” he tweeted. “Tuesday in Vero Beach, I’ll be there for minicamp/on field work.”
Johnson was drafted by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft after one year at Santa Monica College and one year at Oregon State under head coach Dennis Erickson. Along with future Bengals wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Johnson led the Beavers to an 11-1 record in the 2000 season and caught 37 balls for 806 yards and 8 touchdowns. His 21.8 yards per reception ranked third in all of college football that season and second in the PAC-10.
In his rookie year with the Bengals, Johnson saw limited playing time, tallying just 28 receptions for 329 yards and one touchdown. He would finally break out in 2003, however, setting a franchise record with 1,355 receiving yards. His 2004 season would serve as validation that he had arrived. He totaled 95 receptions for 1,274 yards and 9 touchdowns. By 2005, he had become a mainstay at the top of the NFL’s pass catching list and would grab 97 balls for 1,432 yards and 9 touchdowns that season.
Johnson would have two more productive seasons—2006 and 2007—before his performance would start to dip. In 2006, he had 87 receptions and 2007 would be the last of his four seasons with 90 or more receptions. He also set the Bengals franchise career receiving yards record that season. Besides being one of the most prolific wide receivers ever in the NFL, Johnson has also been one of the game’s most controversial. And whether or not he can still bring it after two years out of the game is almost secondary. Just seeing him line up again as a pro would surely be worth the price of admission.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat