Former Bills punter Matt Araiza signs contract with Chiefs, agent announces

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 5: Matt Araiza #PK01 of the San Diego State Aztecs speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 5, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Matt Araiza is back in the NFL. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Former Buffalo Bills Punter Matt Araiza has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, his agency JL Sports announced Thursday.

Araiza's return to the NFL comes after no criminal charges were filed in an alleged gang rape case involving the now 23-year-old. A civil suit against him was dropped in December.

"We are proud to announce that our client Matt Araiza has signed with the Chiefs. We are grateful to Brett Veach, coach Reid and the Chiefs organization for giving Matt this opportunity," the agency said. "Matt has been to hell and back in the last 18 months. He has handled himself with grace and humility that is truly inspiring. Matt can now move forward knowing that this ordeal is behind him. He is thrilled to move forward as a part of the Chiefs Kingdom."

The Bills selected Araiza in the sixth round of the 2022 draft out of San Diego State, and released him ahead of the team's final preseason game in August. They announced the decision two days after Araiza was accused of sexually assaulting a minor with two former San Diego State teammates in 2021. He was released as the Bills faced public scrutiny for being aware of the alleged incident and signing him anyway.

It turned out that San Diego Police had investigated the case for almost 10 months before they forwarded it to the district attorney without a recommendation for prosecution. In January, a lengthy transcript obtained by Yahoo Sports showed that prosecutors found Araiza wasn't present during the alleged gang rape.

After waiting over a year for a second chance in the league, he thanked his family and friends for their support:

Araiza went on to say that he's "excited to begin the next phase" of his career with the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Before his release from the Bills, he looked set to continue the momentum established by his college career with the Aztecs. Known by the nickname "Punt God," he set an NCAA record in his senior season with a 51.2-yard punting average. He lived up the the nickname as he unleashed an 82-yard punt for the Bills during the preseason, which saw Buffalo officially commit to him as their starting punter,

While the New York Jets hosted Araiza for a workout last May, the Chiefs might have been more motivated to sign him with veteran punter Tommy Townsend set for free agency next month.