Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Ariza has his first NFL opportunity since he was cut after being accused of rape. The 23-year-old is working out for the Jets on Wednesday, his agent told ESPN Adam Schefter.
Ariza was drafted after a standout collegiate career at San Diego State, where he earned the nickname “Punt God” and set an NCAA record by averaging 51.2 yards per punt. The Bills fielded him as their starting pitcher during a successful preseason, but he never made a regular season appearance.
His professional career came to a halt when he was released last August. The move comes two days after a civil lawsuit was filed alleging Arraiza and two former San Diego State teammates gang-raped a minor in 2021.
This month, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office announced that Ariza would not be charged with any crime. The office said sexual assault experts, district attorney prosecutors and investigators all analyzed evidence in the case, which included 35 witnesses, DNA results and 10 search warrants.
It was determined that Ariza was not present during the alleged gang rape. Arriza has said that any sexual contact with the girl was consensual, and that he thought she was 18 years old. The girl and her legal representative stand by the allegation and are pursuing a civil case against him.
Upon acquittal of criminal case, Arija said he’s excited to continue his NFL career statement from his agent, Now, he has one try.
If things go well with the Jets, Ariza still may not get the immediate starter title he briefly boasted with the Bills. Last month, New York signed veteran punter Thomas Morstead to a $1.3 million contract with $1.1 million guaranteed.
If Ariza doesn’t get signed by Wednesday’s workout, it’s unclear how many other teams will decide to give him a shot with a civil case.