Matt Araiza has been out of the NFL since last August, but now is taking the first steps toward getting back on the field.
The Jets on Wednesday hosted the 23-year-old punter for a workout, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. New York already rosters veteran punter Thomas Morstead on a $1.3 million contract, so there’s no guarantee that Araiza will get a job. Nevertheless, his visit with the Jets is noteworthy.
Araiza, known as the “Punt God” in college, was selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. But Araiza was released in late August, two days after he and a pair of San Diego State teammates were accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old during a college party.
In late December, the San Diego district attorney announced that charges wouldn’t be brought against Araiza or his teammates.
“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 D.A.’s office said in a statement. “Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Since then, a transcript of prosecutors’ conversations with Araiza’s accusor became public and cast doubt on the validity of the allegations.
“(Araiza) wasn’t even at the party anymore,” deputy district attorney Trisha Amador said in the transcript, which was obtained by Yahoo! Sports in May. “… All I know is that at that point (of the alleged rape), suspect Araiza is gone from the party.”
Furthermore, prosecutors, who reviewed multiple video records from the night of the alleged incident, told the accuser it was impossible to determine whether any non-consensual sex took place.
“In looking at the videos on the sex tape, I absolutely cannot prove any forceable sexual assault based upon what happened,” Amador told the accuser, who carries the placeholder name “Jane Doe” in the civil lawsuit.
Last week, San Diego State released the findings of an internal investigation, saying it found no wrongdoing by Araiza or his teammates. “SDSU reserves the right to reinstate investigations based on new developments,” the school added.
The civil suit against Araiza remains unresolved.