Why did the Chiefs sign Matt Araiza? Ex-Bills punter returns to NFL after gang rape lawsuit dropped

Matt Araiza is getting his second chance in the NFL. 

The Chiefs reportedly are signing the ex-Bills punter for the 2024 season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The news comes on the heels of Kansas City’s second consecutive Super Bowl title. 

Araiza was a highly touted punter coming out of college in 2022 and was initially drafted by the Bills. However, once allegations of gang rape were made against the punter, Buffalo elected to cut ties with him before he suited up for a game. 

The punter did not play in the NFL at all during the 2023 season. The Jets worked him out last offseason, but they elected not to sign him. 

Here is more to know about the Araiza signing with the Chiefs. 

MORE: When does NFL free agency start in 2024? Key dates, latest news & rumors

Why did the Chiefs sign Matt Araiza?

With Kansas City bringing Araiza onto the roster, it likely signals the departure of Tommy Townsend. The 27-year-old punter spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Chiefs, winning two Super Bowls with the squad. 

Townsend averaged 47.0 yards per punt in 2023, putting him in a tie for 17th in the league among punters. His net rating of 41.9 yards also ranked middle-of-the-pack, finishing in a tie for 16th in the league. After signing a one-year deal last offseason as a restricted free agent, Townsend is set to hit the open market this summer as an unrestricted free agent. 

The Chiefs’ decision to bring in Araiza likely has financial reasons. While the details of his contract aren’t known, it was likely cheaper for Kansas City to sign Araiza than keep Townsend. 

Looking strictly at his on-field performance in college, it’s understandable why the Chiefs are interested in his leg. Araiza won the Ray Guy Award in 2021, an honor given to college football’s best punter. With San Diego State that year, he averaged 51.2 yards (an NCAA record) on 79 punts, with 4,044 yards worth of punts total. His performance earned him the nickname “Punt God.”

Matt Araiza rape allegations

Araiza initially was drafted by the Bills in 2022 following a successful collegiate career at San Diego State University. However, he was released from the team before the start of the 2022 season due to allegations of gang rape against the punter. 

The punter was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl during his time at San Diego State. He was accused, along with two other SDSU teammates, of assaulting the girl at an off-campus party in 2021. 

Araiza was cleared by the San Diego District Attorney’s office last December. The DA’s office said it would not file criminal charges against Araiza and other SDSU players in connection with the incident after new details emerged from the case. 

“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,” the DA’s office said in a statement. “Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Prosecutors said that Araiza was not still present at the party when the alleged incident took place, despite claims to the contrary from the victim. Sex videos of the accuser during the incident were revealed, and Araiza was not seen in any of the footage. 

Araiza filed a defamation lawsuit in July of 2023 against his accuser in December, but the two sides agreed to drop both lawsuits against one another.

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