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Giants among most improved teams, but Washington named THE most improved

The Athletic says Big Blue’s stock is up, but not as much as a division rival

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Giants are among the most improved teams heading into 2021 according to one website, but not as improved as a pesky division rival.

The Athletic’s Robert Mays released his list of the five most improved NFL teams following the draft and free agency. The Giants earned a nod among a handful of “honorable mentions.”

Here’s what The Athletic said about the Giants:

What it means for 2021: The Giants seemed to miss the memo that the salary cap fell to $185 million this spring. After signing Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal (sixth in average annual value among WRs), general manager Dave Gettleman inked former Titans cornerback Adoree Jackson to a three-year, $39 million deal to round out the team’s secondary.

The Giants still have some questions along the offensive line and will be heavily relying on Ojulari to improve their pass rush, but with Golladay and Toney in the mix, Daniel Jones has more than enough offensive weaponry at his disposal. If the Giants’ quarterback can take a step forward in 2021, the rest of the roster is ready to compete in the NFC East.

The Giants added several key additions to its roster this offseason, including a pair of high-profile free agents in wide receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Other additions included tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker, wide receiver John Ross, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, and others.

In the draft, general manager Dave Gettleman traded down and nabbed Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick.

Later on, the Giants selected former Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari in the second round. And in the third round, Gettleman took a corner out of UCF, Aaron Robinson.

Still, it wasn’t as good as the marks The Athletic gave to the Washington Football Team, its most improved team in the entire league. The website also named the Giants’ cross-town rival, the New York Jets, as its number three most improved team.

The top five most improved teams, from the top, were listed as Jacksonville, Cleveland, New York Jets, New England and Washington.

Arizona, Denver and Los Angeles Rams were also named honorable mentions.

In free agency, Washington added such names as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Curtis Samuel, cornerback William Jackson III, tackle Charles Leno and tackle-turned-guard Ereck Flowers. In the draft, Washington selected Kentucky inside linebacker Jamin Davis, Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi and Bobby McCain, among others.

Mays wrote:

What it means for 2021: This year’s Washington Football Team is going to be an excellent test case for what it means when a team goes from basement-level QB play to competence at the position. Washington finished dead last (by a mile) last season in passing DVOA. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins ranked 36th and 37th, respectively, out of 38 qualified QBS in EPA per drop back. It’s a testament to how great the Football Team’s defense was in 2020 that this team managed to win seven games. Luckily, that’s where Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in. No one thinks that the 38-year-old journeyman quarterback is the long-term answer in Washington. He signed a one-year, $10 million deal this spring on his latest stop around the league. But even if Fitzpatrick isn’t the QB of the future, he’s a pretty good option for the present! Fitzpatrick finished sixth in EPA per drop back last season with the Dolphins. Sixth! And he did it with arguably a worse supporting cast than the one he’ll have in Washington this season. If Washington can field even an average passing offense with Fitzpatrick this fall (which is easy to believe), it will look like they’re playing a completely different sport on that side of the ball.