Greg Nejmeh has made a steady ascent up the Jets' organizational chart in the state where he grew up.
A native of Midland Park, N.J., Nejmeh played quarterback at The College of New Jersey, and then transitioned to the role of student quarterback coach as a junior and a senior. It was pretty clear the political science major was already thinking of melding the political world and the football world to a future role that is part science, part alchemy -- as the Jets' Pro Personnel Director.
More than a dozen years into his tenure with the Jets since being hired by GM Mike Tannenbaum in 2009 as a scouting intern, Nejmeh was promoted to his current position by General Manager Joe Douglas.
Now, with free agency in the NFL beginning next week, Nejmeh and his staff have met with Robert Saleh's coaching staff to pore over the roster, the list of available players while also picking the brains of the coaches. Some observers believe the Jets could be major players in free agency with cap space of more than $70 million. But the price and the player must be right.
"We're really excited," he told Eric Allen and Ethan Greenberg on The Official Jets Podcast. "I think in free agency you want to be aggressive, but you want to be disciplined, too. You don't want to just be signing guys, you want to build a team. And that's something Joe and Robert talk about all the time. We want to build a team that's composed of guys with the traits we want. It's not fantasy football where you can go and sign all kinds of different players. You have to be disciplined and strategic about it. I feel we're prepared and in a really good place working with the new staff. We're ready to go. We have a chance to upgrade and supplement [the roster] in some areas, add good players and character to the team. That's always going to be the goal."
It's clear that Nejmeh has shown he has the right stuff in each of his myriad positions with the Jets. His methodical climb up the organizational chart has been steady and impressive. After starting as an intern, he served as a pro personnel assistant (2011-13), a pro scout (2014-17) and then as coordinator, pro scouting (2018).
Take a look at the Jets players slated to become unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive rights free agents when the NFL's free agency period begins.
With a new coaching staff on board and a whirlwind of an offseason with impending free agency and the NFL Draft at the end of April, the first task for team officials was a series of meetings to discuss all facets of the professional operation.
"First off, the coaching staff evaluated the roster, because you can't evaluate your options without first evaluating your current roster," he said. "They walked us through their thoughts on each player. We communicated back what we saw and then we just had really good, honest and open discussions about everything. That's the first part.
"The next step was the coaches laying out for us [the pro personnel staff] what they want in each of the new schemes at each position, position specific traits and all that. It is slightly different from the schemes we've had in the past. There are some nuances to it. But the coaches did an unbelievable job of evaluating our roster and then teaching us what they wanted to see, the value they want at each position. This is a little different than what we've seen so we need to start valuing these certain traits more. Then here's the free agents we want you guys to evaluate and rank. Let us know how they fit and eventually do they grade our roster? Do they fit our scheme and the role this player is going to play?"
Nejmeh praised Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and defensive coordinator Jeff Ubrich for their leadership in the collaborative effort that was detailed and "incredible." Having been around the block a few times, Nejmeh said there is a different rhythm to free agency than there is on draft day(s).
"We do have our boards, it's [free agency] a little different than the draft," he said. "In the draft have your board dictated to you. In free agency you're focusing more on who you want to go after, this or that guy. Our so called targets.
"Things are out of your control. A guy might get franchise tagged, guys can reach agreement with their current team before they get to market so you have to be able to adjust and see what the next option is. If there are options you feel good about then you continue to be aggressive with them, if not you also have to be able to say it doesn't make sense to continue to add pieces at this point. Maybe we hit pause and let things come to us a little bit. That's where Joe's patience and poise comes in. That was something that we were seeing last year for first time. And it was really refreshing."