After cutting controversial rookie Matt Araiza, a.k.a “The Punt God,” on Saturday, the Buffalo Bills have officially found their new punter for the 2022 NFL season. On Wednesday, August 31, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report that former Denver Broncos veteran, Sam Martin, is signing with the Bills.
Martin, 32, is a former fifth-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft. After spending seven years with the Detroit Lions, the Appalachian State alum signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Broncos in 2020. However, Martin was cut by Denver on Monday, August 29, after he wouldn’t accept a pay cut, Rapoport tweeted.
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“He was a top 5 punter statistically in 2021 and set Broncos’ all-time record for net punting last season. Will have interest,” Rapoport reported. The Broncos deciding to go with punter Corliss Waitman at $1.4 million, instead of paying Martin, couldn’t have come at a better time for the time Bills.
NBC Sports analyst Michael David Smith reported that Martin “had a base salary this year of $2.25 million, but none of that was guaranteed, so that’s what the Broncos will save on their salary cap by cutting him.”
Signing Martin is a huge get for the Bills. Even though they don’t punt often, Martin is one of the best kickers in the league. Last season, Martin “ranked third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards per punt,” as reported by Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. “He tied for fifth in the league with 28 punts inside the 20-yard line. During the preseason, Martin had a 49-yard net average on four preseason punts, with one inside the 20.”
Before landing on Martin, who’s signing a one-year deal with Buffalo, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the following punters tried out for the Bills on Sunday: Michael Palardy, Ty Long, Tyler Newsome, and Joseph Charlton.
Araiza Is Technically a Free Agent
On Wednesday, Araiza officially cleared waivers, however, it’s hard to imagine any team will touch until his civil suit is settled. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted, “Of course, football is the least of Araiza’s concerns right now.”
Araiza, 22, 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 Thursday. While Araiza still traveled with the team to their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday night, on Saturday evening, Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced he was no longer a member of the Bills team.
Following Araiza’s release, his criminal defense attorney, Kerry Armstrong, who is not representing the San Diego State alum in the civil case, put out the following statement:
“I am sure he is very upset and disappointed that his career with the Bills ended not because he played poorly, but because of false allegations leveled against him by a young lady and her attorney. I hope he is back in the NFL soon.”
Beane Said They Were ‘Trying Not to Rush Judgement’
As for why the Bills didn’t immediately release Araiza after they first became aware of the seriousness of the allegations, “We were trying not to rush to judgment,” Beane said. “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 did know about the accusations against Araiza 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 and me,” Beane said. “And anything that would have been lingering, that would have (moved him) off our board.”
Beane, who’s been working as the Bills general manager since 2017, said he discussed the team’s decision with Araiza prior to the press conference. “Obviously he’s going through it right now. I mean it’s, you know, he’s got a lot going on. I think when we spoke again this morning that he agreed that that was probably the best thing. I appreciate him understanding.”