Jets ‘Working Out’ Controversial Free Agent: Report

Matt Araiza

Getty NFL punter Matt Araiza at the 2022 NFL Combine.

The New York Jets are taking a look at a talented prospect who could be viewed as controversial considering a recent criminal investigation.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter had the story, tweeting: “Jets are working out free-agent punter Matt Araiza today, his agent @JLSports3 confirmed.”

uSTADIUM followed up on the news, reporting:

“Araiza, aka Punt God, was thought of as one of the best punters to enter the draft in years. He was selected by the [Buffalo Bills] in the 6th round in 2022, only to be released following accusations of rape at an off-campus party. Just a few weeks ago, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office did not file criminal charges against Araiza or the other two teammates, stating, ‘Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction.'”

Ex-Bills Punter Matt Araiza Still Faces Civil Case

Buffalo ESPN reporter Alaina Getzenberg detailed the findings and the resolution of the criminal investigation involving Araiza on May 19.

“San Diego State University concluded Friday that there are no findings against former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza after conducting an investigation into allegations of rape and gang rape,” Getzenberg wrote. “A criminal investigation was also conducted, with no charges filed, and a civil case remains ongoing in the matter.”

San Diego State University released a statement to ESPN saying the school isn’t actively investigating Araiza:

“While the university cannot provide specific information related to its student disciplinary proceedings and investigations, or specific information related to student records, it can confirm that none of the former students named in the civil suit are now the subject of an active investigation. In addition, they are not currently enrolled, active students or affiliated with any athletics activities. SDSU reserves the right to reinstate investigations based on new developments.”

Per Getzenberg, “The night of the alleged rapes was in October 2021, and the girl, who was 17 at the time, reported to the police the next day. The police went on to investigate the allegations for nine months before turning over their investigation to prosecutors on Aug. 5, 2022. The police did not recommend charges be filed.”

The Bills later released Araiza following the lawsuit, on August 27, 2022.

“This is bigger than football,” Bills general manager Billy Beane noted at the time. “We just think it’s the best move for everyone to move on from Matt, and let him take care of this situation and focus on that. So, we’re going to part ways there.”

As for the Jets: The franchise decided to part ways with highly touted punter prospect Braden Mann this offseason after years of struggles at the NFL level. They re-signed veteran Thomas Morstead as a stopgap in 2023 but currently have no long-term plans at the position beyond that. Araiza just turned 23 on May 16.

Matt Araiza Speaks on Bills Release

Araiza has never wavered in publicly pleading his innocence, saying, “I can only hope that now people will assess me on the facts and not what was falsely claimed in both the civil suit and in the press” during a statement provided to Pro Football Talk on May 9.

The punter later joined Tomi Lahren of the “Tomi Lahren is Fearless” show produced by OutKick.

“It wasn’t for talent,” Araiza told Lahren regarding his release. “I was cut because of these allegations. I hold nothing against the Buffalo Bills. I wish things were handled differently, but they did treat me with respect which I appreciate.”

He went on: “It’s just the climate of how things are now. Accusations bring so much hate to anyone who decides to stand by the accuser that they were kind of forced to cut me from the team.”

Araiza also added that the Bills organization “knew the truth” but released him anyway — contrary to what Beane told reporters, citing “limited information” during his press conference in August.

“Prior to me being cut, for about a month they were in on all of the information,” Araiza explained. “I gave my attorney the green light to keep them in the loop. … They knew the truth, but the accusations were strong enough that they had to cut me.”

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