TE Bernhard Seikovits up for the challenge of making Cardinals roster
New Arizona Cardinals tight end Bernhard Seikovits had quite a different path than most in making it to the NFL.
Never playing a down in the U.S., the Austrian-born tight end was just one of four new athletes allocated to NFL teams through the International Player Pathway Program.
Seikovits was a part of the IPP Program in 2020, but was not placed on a roster.
The program, which allocated players to NFC West teams in a random draw, provides international athletes an opportunity to learn at the NFL level by sticking with a team throughout training camp. Players in the program do not count against the 90-man roster limit during the offseason and training camp.
It can also potentially lead to a spot on the roster, by and large Seikovits’ main goal as he begins his NFL journey.
“As of right now, I’m aiming for the active roster and trying to compete with everyone here,” Seikovits said Friday. “I’m trying to get a role on special teams and maybe even as a third-string or second-string tight end. I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Of course if it’s not working out … the practice roster would still be like an upgrade compared to the international spot.
“If the coaches don’t see me on the active roster yet and put me on the practice roster there’s still a chance I can get upgraded to the active roster during the season. So that would be good for me too, but of course the goal is active roster.”
Seikovits, who first picked up a football at nine years old thanks to his best friend, may not be a household name in America, but the 6-foot-5, 262-pounder did have a great deal of success leading the Austria Under-19 national team to two European Championships. He is currently a captain for the men’s national team.
Most European kids gravitate to soccer, but not Seikovits.
“What I like most about football is the physicality and you can do stuff you can really not do in real life,” he said. “You can hit people and you can just lose your mind basically. That really excites me and I couldn’t find it in soccer.”
He didn’t start out catching passes, however, with the tight end manning quarterback duties for the Vienna Vikings. He even looked up to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, noting the chip on Rodgers’ shoulder from being an undersized signal caller who went later than he should have in the NFL Draft.
“I also feel like I have a really big chip on my shoulder since I come from Austria and no one actually thinks I can play football, so I have to prove a lot of people wrong,” Seikovits said.
It wasn’t until he jumped up to the men’s national team when he made the move over to pass catcher after the team brought in former AAF quarterback Kevin Burke. Not really wanting to be a signal caller and knowing it would be a stretch to take over the starting role from the only guy getting paid on the amateur league team, the transition was a welcome sight.
“Since my road was so long until now to get to this point, I think I prepared my mind for this opportunity,” Seikovits said. “Basically everything I did the last 2-3 years, I did it because of this moment and this opportunity so I don’t see a reason why I have to be nervous. I just have to put to the test what I have done and just have to adjust and [fix mistakes].”
It’s unclear how Seikovits will fit in with the Cardinals this offseason, but gives them some added depth at the tight end position.
As of Friday, the team has Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels as the two top tight ends, with Ian Bunting on the roster as well. Arizona also reportedly signed undrafted rookie free agents Cary Angeline (North Carolina State) and Bruno Labelle (Cincinnati).
With top pass-catching tight end Dan Arnold gone, the Cardinals could use another big-bodied target for quarterback Kyler Murray to look for in the red zone.
“Maxx Williams already reached out to me so that’s a cool gesture of him,” Seikovits said. “I think I’m going to fit in good with the tight ends. I think I’m a cool guy to be around. I think it’s going to be OK.”