The New York Jets are debating whether to sign Terrell Owens, NFL sources tell ESPN.
The Jets have reportedly contacted Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and may invite the high-profile wide receiver to training camp. But one source says the chances of the team signing Owens are slim and the Bengals remain the frontrunner to sign the 36-year-old receiver.
Bengals owner Mike Brown said on Monday that the team has discussed a contract with Owens. The Bengals passed on the chance to sign the receiver after a tryout in March, but have given it more thought now that he remains a free agent.
If Owens accepts the offer, the Bengals would lead the league in reality show stars. Receiver Chad Ochocinco appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" in the offseason, and has a dating show called "Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch" currently playing on VH1. Right after Ochocinco's show comes "The T.O. Show."
While Ochocinco eliminated two contestants in his recent show, Owens donned a metrosexual look for a fashion show - bare chest under an open jacket and a wig.
What they'd do together in a locker room would get some attention, too.
Brown noted that Owens caught the winning 57-yard touchdown pass in Dallas' 31-22 victory over the Bengals in 2008.
"I think that I would rather have him line up on our side of the ball than the other side of the ball," Brown said, at the team's annual preseason luncheon. "I can remember playing Dallas a few years ago when he caught a pass across the middle that won the game for them.
"So I've seen him do it. I've seen him do it against us. I'd like him to be here and do that against somebody else."
So would Ochocinco, who is a close friend and lobbied unsuccessfully for the Bengals to sign Owens in March. Instead, they chose receiver Antonio Bryant and gave him a four-year deal.
One change since then: Cincinnati's quarterback has joined the lobbying effort. Carson Palmer has been working out with Owens in California, and excitedly called coach Marvin Lewis about making a run to sign the receiver.
"Carson was really impressed with a lot of the things that Terrell was doing," Lewis said. "Carson's comments to me - I guess the word is they resonate well."
Ochocinco has resumed his Twitter lobbying to sign Owens. Last March, he dubbed the two of them Batman (Owens) and Robin. He thinks Palmer, who wears No. 9, has more sway with the front office.
"im out of the loop now, i expressed my beliefs on why he should be here and that's all i can do, (No.)9 has the real power," Ochocinco tweeted.
The final say rests with Brown, who has a history of giving chances to players with trouble in their past. He repeatedly brought back receiver Chris Henry, who was arrested five times and died last year in a fall of his fiancee's truck.
In the last two years, the Bengals also have signed running back Cedric Benson, running back Larry Johnson and receiver Matt Jones, all of whom were let go by teams because of off-field issues.
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, Owens pointed out that he was on good behavior last season in Buffalo, where he caught 55 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns - his least-productive full season since early in his career with San Francisco.
"Yes, people can make mistakes," Brown said. "It doesn't mean that they go on the rest of their lives making mistakes. They can get their ship pointed in the right direction. This is a 36-year-old man. He's been through a lot. He's proven as a player and as a person."
Brown formed his opinion about Owens during a one-on-one meeting last March in conjunction with his tryout.
"When he was here, I was surprised," Brown said. "I met with him personally and privately. He is not at all the way his public image is depicted. He's a pleasant person, a quiet person. I found him engaging. And I do trust my own eyes on this sort of thing. I think that if he chose to come here, that he could help our team, and we'll see how that plays out. It's going to be his decision."
The St. Louis Rams reportedly are also interested in Owens. If he chooses Cincinnati, he could be paired on the outside with Ochocinco. Lewis said Bryant could move into an inside slot position.
Lewis had to defend against Owens throughout his career.
"So I've been there, I've seen that," Lewis said. "You think he's on reality TV now? Being on that sideline watching him do it is real reality TV. So he's an effective player and you like what he brings. You like what people say about him who have had him on their football team to the positive, and we've just got to make sure none of the negative creeps in anymore. He's been a couple of years beyond that."
Rosenhaus didn't return a message on Monday. He also represents Ochocinco, who is entering the final season on his contract with the Bengals. The team has an option for an additional season in 2011.