Matt Araiza wins starting punter job after Buffalo Bills release Matt Haack
One of the biggest position battles for the Buffalo Bills has come to an end as the team announced Monday morning that they have released Matt Haack. This now sets up rookie Matt Araiza to be the starting punter for the Bills this season.
Araiza was a sixth round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills out of San Diego State University and had one of the strongest legs in college last year with an average of over 50 yards per punt. He showed off that strong leg in the first preseason game with an 82-yard punt.
This was probably more of a competition than many expected as Haack struggled last year in his only season with the Buffalo Bills. However, this year the two times he was asked to punt, he did a good job by pinning the opponents inside their own 20.
The deciding factor in this competition seemed to come down to how Araiza would do as the holder for Tyler Bass on field goal attempts. This was something he didn’t have much experience in during college but with the release of Haack, the coaching staff appears confident in his ability here.
Araiza hasn’t had much opportunity to punt during the preseason but certainly has gotten experience holding as Bass had six extra point attempts against the Broncos, making all of them. Araiza was also the holder in the first preseason game on one extra point attempt and two field goal attempts against the Indianapolis Colts, including the game-winner in the closing seconds.
Buffalo Bills have long-term stability with their kicking specialists
Over the past few seasons, the Buffalo Bills have gone younger and found long-term answers at kicker and punter in the NFL Draft. In 2020, the Bills drafted Tyler Bass in the sixth round and he would win the battle with the veteran Stephen Hauschka during training camp.
This offseason, the Bills once again went this route by drafting Araiza and it appears to once again have been the right move with the rookie beating out the veteran. Now with Bass under contract through 2024 and Araiza through 2026, these are positions that general manager Brandon Beane shouldn’t have to worry about for a few years.