Chiefs Sign P Matt Araiza

FEBRUARY 23: Araiza’s Chiefs deal is worth the league minimum and it includes an injury split, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes. As a result, Kansas City is not absorbing any financial risk while taking a flier on the once-celebrated prospect.

FEBRUARY 22: Matt Araiza is on course for an NFL return. The former Bills punter agreed to a one-year deal with the Chiefs on Thursday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports. Araiza’s agency has confirmed the move.

The Bills waived the 2022 sixth-round pick in August 2022, after it was alleged he was involved in a gang rape of a minor. Araiza, 23, has since been cleared of criminal charges, and an investigation into the 2021 incident on the San Diego State campus did not produce a connection involving Araiza, who has also been dropped from a lawsuit pertaining to the matter. He has periodically surfaced on the NFL radar as a result, but the former All-American had not previously caught on with a team since his controversial Buffalo exit.

Araiza visited the Jets in May 2023; the meeting did not produce an agreement. Araiza was out of the league last season. Although Araiza was cleared of wrongdoing by authorities, the prospect of teams not wanting to bother a second chance for a punter who generated the headlines he did loomed. But Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network reports another team showed interest recently. Now, Araiza will look to earn the punting gig with the two-time defending champions.

The Chiefs’ punter of the past four seasons, Tommy Townsend, played out his rookie contract. He is set to be a free agent soon. A 2020 UDFA, Townsend earned first-team All-Pro honors for his work in 2022. He punted in three Super Bowls, collecting two rings as part of the team’s past two championship-winning efforts.

After averaging 50.4 yards per punt last season — by far a franchise single-season record — the Florida alum checked in with a 47.1-yard average in 2023. Townsend, 27, holds the top three single-season punting averages in Chiefs history, providing a strong replacement for longtime Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt. Araiza averaged 51.2 yards per boot during his final San Diego State season.

The Araiza accuser’s civil suit alleged he had sex with the her at an off-campus party and brought her into a bedroom where “a group” of men raped her. The woman, who was 17 at the time of the October 2021 party, said she told friends immediately after she had been raped; she reported it to the San Diego Police Department the next day. During a 10-month criminal investigation into Araiza and two other members of the San Diego State football team, however, a witness said Araiza was no longer at the party at the time the alleged rape took place. Araiza had said any sexual contact between he and the accuser was consensual. Although the woman was 17 at the time of the alleged rape, Araiza has said he believed she was 18.

During Araiza’s quest to resume his career, the punter’s agent sent 20 teams a recording of a December 2022 meeting between a San Diego County prosecutor, the accuser and her attorney. The recording included a series of video clips showing the teen’s sexual encounters at the party; none showed Araiza, who declined an offer to settle the case for $50K.

This Araiza flier of sorts comes years after the Chiefs kicked the tires on first-round washouts Deandre Baker and Damon Arnette. Kansas City picked up both after off-field developments respectively led the corners out of New York and Las Vegas. Those partnerships did not last long, and it will be interesting to see if Araiza can rebound and begin his career two years later.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

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