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Matt Araiza’s initial path back to the NFL could be on a practice squad

Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down the news from prosecutors that former Bills’ punter Matt Araiza was not present during an alleged gang rape and discuss if he will get a second chance in the NFL.

Former Bills punter Matt Araiza hopes to return to the NFL. He might have to prove himself in the XFL first -- or, at a minimum, wait until the pending civil litigation resolves in a way that clears his name.

Tonight’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel story regarding Araiza concludes with corespondent Andrea Kremer and Gumbel discussing the situation, focusing in part of Araiza’s football future.

Kremer explains that she has spoken to “at least half a dozen NFL General Managers, harvesting “a variety of opinion.”

“In one case an organization got push back from women and they weren’t even going to bring him in,” Kremer said. “In another case, a G.M. said, ‘We know how hard it is to bring criminal charges, so where does the truth lie?’ And then another guy admitted to me, ‘Look, he’s a punter, not a quarterback, we can’t overlook the issues.’”

That’s the biggest challenge Araiza faces. Even though he has the potential to be a very good punter, there are far more punters than there are NFL teams. Teams often shy away from kicker and punters who bring with them any risk of bad P.R.

Kremer added that the Jets, who gave Araiza a workout last month, “will bring him in if they need to.”

“They feel he deserves the opportunity for a second chance,” Kremer said of the Jets. “But it’s musical chairs, everyone’s got a punter.

Kremer predicts an NFL team eventually will sign Araiza to the practice squad. In the interim, she said the XFL has cleared Araiza to join the league, and that two teams are interested in signing him for 2024.

Still, his NFL future could be tied to the pending civil lawsuits being resolve in his favor. Even then, a little controversy can be a big problem for a punter.