Now, sources say, it looks like the pairing may be more than just a remote possibility.
“There have been talks” with Spears and her team, a source close to the situation tells PEOPLE. “Anything is possible.” Reveals a second source: “I’ve heard they are in negotiations.”
Should Spears, 30, fill one of the open judge seats on the reality competition, she’d likely slow the rampant speculation about who will join the cast. (Janet Jackson and Avril Lavigne have been rumored picks as well.)
“Are we flattered that there could be interest? Yes,” Cowell told reporters on a conference call last month of the Spears chatter. But he wouldn’t confirm anything to the press.
“I’ve learned a big lesson: Keep your mouth shut. Don’t give it all away.”