BUFFALO, N.Y. — Four days after releasing rookie punter Matt Araiza following a civil suit that alleged he gang raped a minor, the Buffalo Bills have signed a punter to replace him, signing former Denver Broncos punter Sam Martin to a one-year deal.
In a corresponding move to open up a roster spot, wide receiver Marquez Stevenson was moved to injured reserve.
Martin was released by the Broncos on Monday after spending two seasons with the team. Before that, he spent seven years with the Detroit Lions. Martin, 32, was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Appalachian State by the Lions.
In 2021, Martin averaged the third-highest net yards per punt (42.8) and placed 41.8% of his punts inside the 20-yard line (10th in the league) and 28 total inside the 20 (tied for fifth most).
The Bills also worked out four other punters earlier this week.
Araiza was released Saturday, two days after a civil lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court alleging he and two former San Diego State teammates, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, gang raped a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus Halloween party on Oct. 17, 2021.
Attorney Kerry Armstrong, who represents Araiza in the criminal investigation, called the allegations untrue based on the findings of an investigator he hired. In a lengthy statement provided to ESPN on Monday, Araiza’s parents, Rico and Kerry, said their son has been prematurely convicted in the court of public opinion.
Araiza was held out of playing in the team’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday but flew back on the team plane. General manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott held a news conference announcing his release late Saturday night.
“It’s a very serious situation, and with the serious nature of allegations, we don’t have the means to put all the facts together,” Beane said. “There’s multiple versions of what happened and [McDermott’s] a football coach, I’m a GM. We don’t have access to everything, and so that’s more important than playing football. And so, we want Matt to focus on that.”
Araiza was selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft. Because the alleged rape happened before Araiza was drafted, he would not be subject to the league’s personal conduct policy.
Quarterback Matt Barkley punted four times for the Bills against the Panthers.