Chad Johnson admits he has never been to Canada, but he will soon call it a temporary home after signing with the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday.
The team announced they had agreed to terms with the 36-year-old former Pro Bowl wide receiver whose NFL career spanned 11 years, a decade with the Cincinnati Bengals and one year with the New England Patriots.
Johnson had been working out with the team since Monday in Florida.
"Chad Johnson did an outstanding job the last three days," said Alouettes general manager Jim Popp in a release. "As we added him into the mix, it was to see how he communicated with the players, how he held himself, the way he physically held up, his true interest in coming to the CFL. It was a total evaluation so that it's a good fit. He was very happy and very excited to be on the field again and we are happy to welcome him to the Alouettes."
Johnson has been out of football for the past two seasons. He signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 2012, but was cut prior to the start of the season following an arrest.
"I messed up tremendously, as we all know, and I didnt get the opportunity to come back after that and I'm like, 'I have so much left and I just want to get back to the game of football,' he said on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor on TSN Radio 1050. "Popp gave me the opportunity to come down and try out in Vero Beach and I didnt hesitate to take the two-hour drive down from Miami and just go out there and do what I love to do."
The Oregon State product is a six-time Pro Bowler and holds Bengals franchise records for most receptions, receiving yards in a season, touchdown receptions and most receiving yardage of all-time.
Johnson joins a receiving corps that was led in 2013 by S.J. Green, who finished the season with 1,197 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. He says his experience with the Alouettes so far isn't much different than his time south of the border.
"One thing I've come to learn, and I learned really fast, is that the players that I was able to meet at the Alouettes are all NFL worthy," Johnson said. "The competition level is really no different then what it was in my 12-year career in the NFL and it was fun. You know, learning the little nuances of the Canadian game, it was phenonemal man and Im just happy and blessed to have the opporutnity to play again and have the opportunity to contribute to the Alouettes."
The details of the contract have not been released, however, Johnson says the administrative process is a small part of a much grander scheme.
"It's not about signing a contract, it's the fact that when I was able to touch the grass the first day ... and hear the sound of cleats leaving the locker room, and the chills I got to be a part of something again was worth much more than signing a contract," he said. "Being a part of soemthing, the camaraderie, the competing outside, the talking, the learning, the film room, all that beats everything and that's what I was missing."