Buffalo Bills sign punter Sam Martin to 1-year deal to replace Matt Araiza

BUFFALO, NY — Four days after releasing rookie punter Matt Araiza following a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a minor, the Buffalo Bills have signed a punter to replace him and the former Denver Broncos punter Sam Martin signed to a one-year deal.

In a corresponding move to open a roster spot, wide receiver Marquez Stevenson was placed on injured reserve.

Martin was released by the Broncos 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 by the Appalachian State Lions.

In 2021, Martin averaged the third-highest net yards per punt (42.8) and placed 41.8% of his punts within the 20-yard line (10th in the league) and 28 overall within the 20 (ranked fifth). ).

The Bills also drafted four more players earlier this week.

Araiza was released Saturday, two days after a civil lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court alleging that he and two former San Diego State teammates, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, were a 17-year-old girl gang raped at an off-campus Halloween party on October 17, 2021.

Attorney Kerry Armstrong, who is representing Araiza in the criminal investigation, dismissed the allegations as 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 had been prematurely convicted by the court of public opinion.

Araiza was ruled out of the team’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday but flew back on the team plane. General manager Brandon Beane and trainer Sean McDermott held a press conference late Saturday night announcing his release.

“It’s a very serious situation and given the seriousness of the allegations, we don’t have the resources to gather all the facts,” Beane said. “There are multiple versions of what happened and [McDermott’s] a soccer coach, I’m a GM. We don’t have access to everything and that’s more important than playing football. And that’s why 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 guidelines.

The Bills fired Matt Haack, the team’s 2021 punter, on Aug. 22, giving Araiza the job for the 2022 season. Haack signed with the Indianapolis Colts last week.

Quarterback Matt Barkley punched four times for the Bills against the Panthers.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34497179/buffalo-bills-sign-punter-sam-martin-1-year-deal-replace-matt-araiza Buffalo Bills sign punter Sam Martin to 1-year deal to replace Matt Araiza

Emma Bowman

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