The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are taking a chance on Matt Araiza, the former Buffalo Bills punter who was released following sexual assault allegations, allegations that have since been dropped.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the Chiefs plan to sign the free agent, who has never played in an actual NFL game. Araiza has since confirmed the news through his agency.
“I am proud and honored to sign a contract with the @Chiefs,” he wrote on X. “I am excited to continue my career in the NFL. I I want to thank my family, who have been my support, and my many friends who have been unwavering in their support.’
In December, Araiza was dropped from a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleged she was raped by San Diego State University football players in 2021. The woman agreed to dismiss Araiza from the lawsuit she filed last year, while Araiza agreed to dismiss his countersuit for defamation. against her, her lawyers said in a statement.
Araiza is likely to compete for the Chiefs’ punter job as Tommy Townsend’s initial 2023 contract expires early this month. Townsend is coming off an up-and-down season in which he ranked 25th in punts inside the 20-yard line and 17th in gross punt average.
The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are taking a chance on Matt Araiza (pictured)
Matt Araiza punts during Bills training camp at Saint John Fisher University in 2022
‘Matt has been forced to defend himself for the past sixteen months against false accusations and a campaign to ruin his NFL career. He will never get this moment in his life back,” said attorneys Dick Semerdjian and Kristen Bush.
“Fortunately, there was ample evidence that was key to securing Matt’s voluntary dismissal of this lawsuit,” the statement added. ‘Matt was and always has been innocent. The case is over and Matt has prevailed.
Araiza said in December that the ordeal “changed me a lot” and that he wants another chance in the NFL.
“My name, my reputation, will be linked to me forever and will not disappear,” he said at a news conference. “It was difficult to see the pain this caused my family, because I was proven innocent, but they surely had absolutely nothing to do with this.”
Araiza said at the time that he was continuing to train in hopes of finding his way back to the league.
‘When they cut me, I was an NFL starter and I had just beaten an NFL veteran. He had a four-year contract and they won’t give it back to me. Nobody in the NFL is going to say, ‘Here’s the job you once had,’ so working to get back to where I was is my main goal right now,” Araiza said. “I’m confident I can get my career back in the NFL. , whenever that may be. I think it’s more of a when, not an if.
The defamation suit against the woman, described in court documents only as Jane Doe, was “legally baseless,” but her first legal bill exceeded $20,000 and she “simply cannot afford to defend herself,” her attorney said. Dan Gilleon, in a statement. reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“In addition, she has been defeated by Araiza’s public relations campaign and frankly she is already over it,” he said in a text, the media outlet reported.
The lawsuit against four other former San Diego State University players will continue.
Araiza was nicknamed the ‘Punt God’ at San Diego State, where he was an All-American
Araiza was nicknamed the ‘Punt God’ and honored as a consensus All-American in 2021 for his powerful kicks that helped SDSU to a school-best 12-2 season his senior year. He was selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft, but was released two days after the lawsuit was filed.
The woman alleged that she was 17 years old and attending an off-campus party in October 2021 when Araiza, then 21 years old, had sex with her in a side yard of an off-campus house before taking her to a dormitory where a group of men took turns. raping her. She reported the alleged assault to San Diego police the next day.
Araiza has said that he stayed in the backyard and never entered the house during the party and that he left almost half an hour before the alleged rape occurred.
He and most of the other players the woman is suing have said their encounters with her were consensual.
After a month-long police investigation, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced in December that it would not file criminal charges. Several media outlets obtained an audio recording of a meeting between prosecutors and the woman in which Deputy Prosecutor Trisha Amador said she concluded, based on a witness’ statement, that Araiza ‘wasn’t even at the party anymore’ when the alleged rape may have occurred. occurred and was not visible in the videos that were recovered.
Earlier this year, the New York Jets hosted Araiza for a workout at the team’s facility, six days after a San Diego State investigation found no wrongdoing on his part in connection with the alleged rape.