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It took nearly 18 months, but Matt Araiza is finally back in the NFL. The player known as "Punt God" has agreed to a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his sports agency. 

Araiza was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2022, but he didn't end up playing a single down with the team. Just four months after he was drafted, Araiza was one of the accusers named in a rape lawsuit, which led the Bills to releasing him in August 2022. 

Over the past 18 months, though, his legal situation has cleaned up considerably. First, police in San Diego announced in December 2022 that he wouldn't be charged with any crime. In December 2023, the woman who filed the original lawsuit decided to drop Araiza's name from the suit, which opened the door for an NFL return. 

The 23-year-old will now look to make the Chiefs' roster after a historical college career where he broke multiple NCAA records at San Diego State. 

Not only did he lead the nation in punting average with an FBS-record 51.4 yards per punt in 2021, but he also had six punts of at least 70 yards that season, which was the most in the country. To put that in perspective, there were only 14 punts of 70 or more yards by every NFL punter combined last season. Araiza also boomed an 86-yard punt in 2021, which was the longest in college football that season. (The longest punt in the NFL last season was 83 yards, which was accomplished by Las Vegas' AJ Cole and JK Scott of the Chargers.) 

With Araiza now in the fold, it will be interesting to see what happens with Tommy Townsend. The Chiefs' current punter is set to be a free agent, so the Chiefs could just let him walk, but that won't be an easy decision considering he's been one of the best punters in the NFL over the past few seasons. 

Although he had a slightly down year in 2023, he was coming off two seasons where he was one of the best punters in the league. After finishing second in the NFL in net yards per punt in 2021, he topped himself in 2022 by leading the league with a net average of 45.6 yards. To put that in perspective, no other punter in the NFL even came within a yard of that total in 2022 (the second-best average was 44.4). 

Townsend's 2022 average was tied for the second-highest net punting average since at least 1976, according to the Football Database. In 2023, Townsend's net average dropped to 41.8, which ranked just outside the top 15. 

As for Araiza, he hasn't punted in a live game in more than two years, so it's hard to say what kind of shape his leg will be in. But if he's still booming punts like he was in Bills' training camp two years ago, there's a good chance he'll end up making the Chiefs' roster. Although he only played in one preseason game in 2022, he made the most of it by booming an 82-yard punt for the Bills. 

For Kansas City, this is a low-risk signing with a high reward.