Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has his first NFL opportunity since he was cut after being accused of rape. The 23-year-old is working out for the Jets on Wednesday, his agent told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Araiza was drafted after a standout collegiate career at San Diego State, where he earned the nickname "Punt God" and set an NCAA record by averaging 51.2 yards per punt. The Bills heralded him as their starting punter during a successful preseason, but he never made a regular season appearance.
His professional career came to halt when he was released last August. The move came two days after civil suit was filed alleging Araiza and two former San Diego State teammates gang raped a minor in 2021. The Bills faced scrutiny for not making the decision sooner, when they were made aware of the allegations.
In December, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office announced Araiza would not be charged with any crime. The office said sexual assault experts, district attorney prosecutors and investigators all analyzed evidence in the case, which included 35 witnesses, DNA results and 10 search warrants.
Prosecutors said Araiza was not present during the alleged gang rape and San Diego State University said it found no wrongdoing by the school's former punter. Araiza has said that any sexual contact with the woman was consensual, and he thought she was 18 years old.
The woman and her legal representation stand by the accusation and are still pursuing a civil case against him, which is scheduled for the fall. Dan Gilleon, the accuser's attorney, told Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel last week, "SDSU's investigation has this garbage-in-garbage-out dilemma: SDSU did not investigate anything for nearly a year, and when it allegedly started, SDSU never spoke to my client."
After being cleared of the criminal case, Araiza said he was excited to continue his NFL career, via a statement from his agent. Now, he has a tryout.
If things go well with the Jets, Araiza still might not get the immediate starter title he briefly boasted with the Bills. Last month, New York signed veteran punter Thomas Morstead to a $1.3 million contract with $1.1 million guaranteed.
If Wednesday’s workout doesn't lead to Araiza's signing, it's unclear how many other teams will give him a shot with the looming civil case.