Just four days after Galgos de Tijuana in Liga de Futbol American Profesional announced they were signing former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza, ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed that the deal was officially dead.
Schefter tweeted on Monday, February 20, “Araiza, who was reported to have signed with Galgos de Tijuana of the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional in Mexico, never signed with the team and remains a free agent, hoping for an opportunity in the NFL, per his agent Joe Linta.”
San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Kirk Kenney was the first to break the news on Twitter on February 16. Kenney tweeted, “Despite this official team announcement welcoming former @AztecFB punter Matt Araiza to Galgos de Tijuana for the 2023 season and subsequent media reports, Araiza’s agent, Joe Linta, says ‘he did not sign with any team in Tijuana.'”
Araiza, a.k.a. “The Punt God,” was accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus Halloween party on October 17, 2021, details of which were made public after the Los Angeles Times published the bombshell article on August 25. Two days later, Araiza, 22, still traveled with Buffalo to their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, but the next night, Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced he was no longer a member of the team.
The Bills’ former sixth-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, who’s denied all accusations against him, will not face criminal charges, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced in December, but a civil suit is proceeding regarding the off-campus sexual assault allegations. A trial date was set for October 20, 2023, per Fox 5 San Diego.
Twitter Strongly Reacted to the ‘Strange’ News
Because Galgos announced the news that San Diego State alum had “arrived” in Tijuana for the upcoming season, the sudden change left Sports Illustrated‘s Zach Dimmitt confused.
“The whole incident is a strange one,” Dimmit wrote. “It’s unclear as of now why his deal with the Galgos suddenly fell through, especially considering that Tijuana, which borders California and is only about a 30-minute drive south of San Diego State, would’ve placed Araiza right next to where he played collegiality for three seasons. A Mexican team in need of some NFL-level talent would seemingly gladly welcome a punter of Araiza’s caliber, but maybe the allegations steered them away. However, this has not been confirmed by any reports as of now.”
While several people didn’t care for any update on Araiza’s football career, “Unemployed punter without a single NFL snap remains unemployed. What a scoop!” one man tweeted, others balked at the idea of him returning to the NFL. One fan tweeted, “He can stay there… no NFL team should every sign him,” while another person wrote, “This dude will never see the NFL again, yet Watson is making $300 mil lol.”
The Bills Replaced Araiza With Sam Martin
As for why the Bills didn’t immediately release Araiza after they first became aware of the seriousness of the allegations Araiza, “We were trying not to rush to judgment,” Beane said in August. “Obviously, Matt’s version was different. You want to give everyone as much due process as you can. We’re not a judge and jury.”
Beane said that if the Bills knew about the accusations prior to the NFL Draft, he would’ve never been selected. “We get things like this from guys, you know how important the character and the culture is to Sean (McDermott) and me. And anything that would have been lingering, that would have (moved him) off our board.”
He discussed the team’s decision with Araiza prior to announcing it. “Obviously he’s going through it right now. I mean it’s, you know, he’s got a lot going on,” Beane said. “I think when we spoke again this morning that he agreed that that was probably the best thing. I appreciate him understanding.”
The Bills replaced Arazia by signing former Denver Broncos veteran punter Sam Martin. Martin, 32, was signed to a one-year deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. According to USA Today‘s Nick Wojton, however, the Bills will likely find another new punter this offseason.
Wojton wrote, “Martin performed well for the Bills. But let’s face facts, he is a righty. Buffalo loves a lefty punter. Expect one to be brought into the fold over Martin that’s a cheaper option.”