The Jets are working out Matt Araiza — the star San Diego State punter who was drafted and then cut by the Bills last year after he was accused of rape.
Jets are working out free-agent punter Matt Araiza today, his agent @JLSports3 confirmed.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 24, 2023
Araiza is attempting to return to the NFL after prosecutors announced he will not be charged criminally. Which is not the complete exoneration some foolishly present it as. Pro Football Talk summed the situation up well:
This month, prosecutors said they will not charge Araiza, saying that evidence showed he was not present during an alleged gang rape of the girl, that Araiza’s sex with the girl was consensual, and that Araiza believed that she was 18 so no charges of sex with a minor could be pursued. The girl and her attorney stand by her accusation and are pursuing a civil case against him.
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While Araiza is clear of criminal charges — and prosecutors did leave the door open to reinstate their investigation if circumstances change — the civil case remains ongoing. Teams will likely want to see how that plays out. And what further information comes to light. Because while Araiza may not have broken a law, his character and judgment is still very much in question.
As for the Jets angle: It is intriguing they decided to break the ice and be the first organization to let Araiza into their facility. But it would be surprising if this goes anywhere beyond due diligence and updating the specialist emergency list.
The Jets just guaranteed veteran punter Thomas Morstead over $1 million this offseason. While that does not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, NFL teams usually don’t like to set seven-figure salary cap hits on fire without good reason. A highly controversial punter who has never kicked in a professional game does not seem like a good reason.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.