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Bills will release Matt Araiza

Mike Florio and Charean Williams analyze next steps for the Bills after rookie punter Matt Araiza was sued for gang rape prior to being drafted, which means the Personal Conduct Policy does not apply.

The Bills have decided to move on from punter Matt Araiza.

The team has made the decision two days after news emerged regarding a federal lawsuit against Araiza and two others alleging gang rape in October 2021. The alleged victim was 17 at the time.

G.M. Brandon Beane explained the decision to reporters during a Saturday night press conference.

“We don’t know all the facts,” Beane said. “At this time, we think it’s the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation and focus on that.”

Beane said that the Bills first learned of the situation in late July, when they were contacted by the alleged victim’s representative.

“We tried to be through and thoughtful and not rush to judgment,” Beane said. “We don’t have the means to put all the facts together. . . . We don’t have access to everything. That’s more important than playing football. We want Matt to focus on that.”

Beane explained that Araiza provided the team with his version of events. Obviously, Araiza’s version conflicts with the version from the alleged victim.

Beane added that the team’s initial statement on the matter should have made it clear that the investigation was not completed. Along the way, however, the Bills chose to release Matt Haack and to keep Araiza. Haack has since joined the Colts, after Rigoberto Sanchez suffered a torn Achilles tendon.

“This is bigger than football,” Beane said repeatedly.

It’s still confusing that the Bills knew about the situation in July but did nothing until the civil suit was filed. A criminal investigation has been occurring. Information was available. It almost seems as if the Bills deliberately decided to lay low and see if it became untenable from a P.R. perspective.

Now that it has, they’re making the only decision that they can, given that Araiza plays a position that allows for a simple replacement. It was clear from the press conference that the situation created a major headache and distraction for the coaching staff and front office over the past two days. Given that Araiza is a punter, they’ve apparently decided it’s just not worth it.