Press Association Sport understands the Black Cats made initial contact with the 32-year-old free agent as manager Martin O'Neill attempted to boost his striking options with the summer transfer window drawing to a close.
However, it is understood that conversation is yet to be followed up and that long-time admirers Stoke remain more likely to make the decisive move.
Owen, who was released by Manchester United at the end of last season, has indicated he wants to stay in the Barclays Premier League despite receiving offers from Europe, and he has been linked with a series of clubs including Everton, Liverpool and West Ham, as well as the Potters and Sunderland.
He spent four years in the north-east after Newcastle made him their record signing when they pulled off what looked like a sensational coup by bringing him back to England from Real Madrid in August 2005.
However, injuries, and in particular the knee ligament damage he suffered on England duty at the 2006 World Cup finals, severely limited his contribution.
Amid a chaotic period in the club's history, he turned down the offer of a contract extension at St James' Park and ultimately was unable to prevent the club slipping out of the top flight at the end of the 2008-09 season, after which he was part of a player exodus.
O'Neill worked hard all summer to strengthen his attacking options, investing heavily in the services of strikers Steven Fletcher, who scored both goals in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Swansea, and Louis Saha as well as winger Adam Johnson.
However, Fraizer Campbell and youngsters Ji Dong-won, Connor Wickham and Ryan Noble represent the back-up and the temptation to add experience is perhaps understandable.