Bills To Waive P Matt Araiza

Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza has been told by the team that he is being released, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The move will be effective immediately.

The news comes in the wake of a recent lawsuit alleging that the San Diego State alum was involved in the gang rape of a minor last season. Araiza was one of three players named in the suit, the only one currently in the NFL. Since the alleged incident took place while he was in college, any discipline he faced would need to have come from the Bills, rather than the NFL itself.

Araiza’s attorney called the lawsuit a “shakedown” as a result of his status as the team’s top punter. The sixth-rounder had won the job when Buffalo cut veteran Matt Haack. Expectations had been high for Araiza, who earned the nickname ‘Punt God’ for his powerful leg showcased during his college career.

Signs were pointing to his release, however. Araiza did not dress during the Bills’ preseason finale, and the team used third-string QB Matt Barkley to handle punting duties. Not long after, Araiza issued a statement indicating that “the facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press.”

Nevertheless, the team began putting together a list of available punters earlier today, as noted by Tim Graham of The Athletic (on Twitter). With Haack having already signed in Indianapolis, the Bills will now be without a punter on the roster.

General manager Brandon Beane said that the team – which issued a statement immediately following the lawsuit saying that they were recently made aware of the incident and had conducted a “thorough investigation” – had difficulty obtaining details on the matter. He added that “there are many things that we could not get our hands on” and that “this was about letting Matt go handle his situation” (Twitter link via Schefter).

“We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment, and I would say it’s not easy. You’re trying to put facts around a legal situation sometimes with limited information… We reached out to double-digit teams and no one had anything on teams. Yes, if we had this… Anything that would’ve been lingering, he would’ve been off our [draft] board” (Twitter links via the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala).

Buffalo will now be active on the free agent market to look for a replacement punter, either amongst current available options or players released during Tuesday’s final round of roster cuts.

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