Chiefs sign ‘Punt God’ Araiza

The Kansas City Chiefs may be moving on from free agent punter Tommy Townsend. Matt Araiza, who was nicknamed "Punt God" in college, signed a contract Thursday with the Kansas City Chiefs.

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February 23, 2024 - 3:00 PM

Matt Araiza #19 of the Buffalo Bills punts during Bills training camp at Saint John Fisher University on July 24, 2022, in Pittsford, New York. Araiza has signed a free agent deal with Kansas City. Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images/TNS

The Kansas City Chiefs signed a pair of players Thursday, including one who could project as an immediate starter.

Matt Araiza, a 23-year-old punter and 2022 sixth-round draft pick, agreed to terms with the Chiefs, according to Araiza’s agent, Joe Linta.

Araiza — nicknamed “Punt God” during his storied career at San Diego State — was released in August 2022 by the Buffalo Bills after he was named in a civil lawsuit that claimed he took part in a gang rape.

More than a year later, the accuser withdrew the civil lawsuit against Araiza, according to reporting from Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel. In addition, the local police and prosecutor’s office declined to recommend charges, while a separate investigation from San Diego State also stated it had no findings against Araiza, per Wetzel.

“I am proud and honored to sign a contract with the Chiefs,” Araiza said in a statement released by Linta. “I am thrilled to be able to continue my NFL career. I want to thank my family, who have been my rock and my many friends who have been unwavering in their support. I am excited to begin the next phase of my career with the Super Bowl Champs!”

Before his 2022 release, Araiza had an 82-yard preseason punt for the Bills.

And Araiza received plenty of national attention in college. Sports Illustrated titled a story about him, “Meet Matt Araiza, Punt God,” in April 2022, while the left-footed kicker was also featured on ESPN’s College GameDay.

“Matt can now move forward knowing that this ordeal is behind him,” Linta said in a statement. “He is thrilled to move forward as a part of the Chiefs Kingdom.”

The Chiefs’ move would seem to indicate the end of punter Tommy Townsend’s tenure in Kansas City.

Townsend, 27, is a free agent after averaging 47.2 yards per punt this year. He spent his four previous seasons with KC, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro status in 2022.

Townsend changed agents last August, hiring Drew Rosenhaus.

The Chiefs also announced Thursday they had signed safety Tyree Gillespie. A 2021 fourth-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders and former Missouri Tiger, Gillespie spent about a month on KC’s practice squad in December.

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