All-Time Sack Leaders in the NFL – Who Has the Most Sacks in History?

all time sack leaders

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Last Updated: June 24, 2023

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Sacks didn’t become an official stat in the NFL until 1982. Since then,10 players have recorded 137.5 or more sacks in their careers.

Bruce Williams leads the way with most sacks in NFL history, but do you know who else makes the list when it comes to the all-time sack leaders? Keep reading to find out.

10. John Randle (TIE)

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  • Career sacks: 137.5
  • NFL teams: Minnesota Vikings (1990–2000), Seattle Seahawks (2001–2003)
  • Accolades: 6x First-team All-Pro, 7x Pro Bowl, 1x NFL sacks leader

John Randle finished college in 1989. However, he went undrafted as many teams believed that he was too small for his position. After the draft, the Minnesota Vikings picked him up, and he played his first season in 1990.

It didn’t take long for the 6’1″ 244-lb defensive lineman to make his presence known in the NFL, as he made his Pro Bowl debut in only his third season with the Vikings.

He would go on to average double-digit sacks on nine different occasions, with his career-high of 15.5 sacks coming in 1997.

Randle played for the Vikings for ten years and holds franchise records for most seasons leading the team in sacks (9) as well as most consecutive seasons leading the team in sacks (8).

He is arguably one of the best undrafted players to ever play in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

10. Richard Dent (TIE)

nfl sack leaders all-time

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  • Career sacks: 137.5
  • NFL teams: Chicago Bears (1983–1993), San Francisco 49ers (1994), Chicago Bears (1995), Indianapolis Colts (1996), Philadelphia Eagles (1997)
  • Accolades: 1x Super Bowl MVP, 1x First-team All-Pro, 3x Second-team All-Pro, 4x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL forced fumbles leader, 1x NFL sacks leade, 2x Super Bowl champion

After playing college football at Tennessee State, Richard Dent was selected in the eighth round of the 1983 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.

Thanks to his size and speed, the 6 ft. 5 in., 265 lb. defender became a vital part of the legendary Bears 46 defense.

In 1984 and 1985, he recorded 34.5 sacks while also setting a team record with 17.5 sacks in a season.

Dent won the MVP award in the 1985 Super Bowl after recording 1.5 shared sacks, two forced fumbles, and a blocked pass in the Bears’ 46 to 10 win against the New England Patriots.

The ex-Tennessee State alumnus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

9. DeMarcus Ware

most sacks in nfl history

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  • Career sacks: 138.5
  • NFL teams: Dallas Cowboys (2005–2013), Denver Broncos (2014–2016)
  • Accolades: 4x First-team All-Pro, 3x Second-team All-Pro, 9x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL sacks leader, 1x Super Bowl champion

After being selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the 11th pick in the 2005 draft, DeMarcus Ware would go on to play as an outside linebacker during his 11 seasons in the NFL.

In his third season, the ex-Troy student became one of at the time 11 players to record more than 20 sacks in a season.

From 2006 to 2012, he averaged 14.5 sacks. In the nine seasons, he spent with the Cowboys, Ware became the team’s all-time leader in sacks (117), fumbles forced (32), tackles for loss (145), and quarterback hits (185).

In 2014 he signed with the Denver Broncos and went on to win Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers. He retired in 2017 as a member of the Cowboys after signing a one-day contract.

8. Terrell Suggs

nfl career sack leader all time

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  • Career sacks: 139.0
  • NFL teams: Baltimore Ravens (2003–2018), Arizona Cardinals (2019), Kansas City Chiefs (2019)
  • Accolades: 1x NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 1x First-team All-Pro, 1x Second-team All-Pro, 7× Pro Bowl, 1x NFL forced fumbles leader, 2x Super Bowl champion

Terrel Suggs was drafted in 2003 by the Baltimore Ravens as the 10th pick. In his first NFL season ever he proved himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

The outside linebacker was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.

Two years later, he would go on to win the Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens before leaving the team in 2018 as the franchise leader in career sacks (132.5) and in career forced fumbles (35).

T-Sizzle’s 2nd NFL ring came in 2019 after his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-10. He retired in 2019 as the NFL’s all-time leader in tackles for a loss.

7. Jason Taylor

all time sack leader in the nfl

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  • Career sacks: 139.5
  • NFL teams: Miami Dolphins (1997–2007), Washington Redskins (2008), Miami Dolphins (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2011)
  • Accolades: 1x NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 2x AFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1x Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, 3x First-team All-Pro, 1x Second-team All-Pro, 6x Pro Bowl, 1x NFL forced fumbles leader, 1x NFL sacks leader

Jason Taylor was selected in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He spent 15 years in the NFL as a member of the Dolphins, Washington Redsking, and the New York Jets.

The outside linebacker is considered one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

In addition to being in the 7th place with 139.5 sacks, he is the NFL all-time leader in fumble return touchdowns (6) and interceptions returned for touchdowns by a defensive lineman (3).

He also holds the 4th place all-time with 246 fumble return yards.

The former Defensive Player of the Year is also the defensive lineman with the most career touchdowns (9) in NFL history. His best season sacks-wise was in 2002 when he recorded 18.5 sacks.

6. Michael Strahan

nfl all-time sack leaders

  • Career sacks: 141.5
  • NFL teams: New York Giants (1993–2007)
  • Accolades: 1x NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 4x First-team All-Pro, 2x Second-team, 7x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL sacks leader, 1x NFL forced fumbles co-leader, 1x Super Bowl champion

After being selected in the 3rd round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Michale Strahan would go on to spend his whole NFL career with the team from The Big Apple,

Strahan is the only player from this list to play for only one team.

The defensive end had 22.5 sacks in the 2001 season, setting an NFL record that has only been matched by J.J. Watt. He is also one of two players to lead the NFL in sacks in two different seasons.

Strahan won his only NFL Championship ring in the last game of his career when his Giants outlasted the New England Patriots, 17-14 in the Super Bowl XLII.

In 2014, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

5. Chris Doleman

sack leaders in nfl

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  • Career sacks: 150.5
  • NFL teams: Minnesota Vikings (1985–1993), Atlanta Falcons (1994–1995), San Francisco 49ers (1996–1998), Minnesota Vikings (1999)
  • Accolades: 3× First-team All-Pro, 2x Second-team All-Pro, 8x Pro Bowl, 1x NFL sacks leader , 1x NFL forced fumbles leader

At number five on our list of the NFL all-time sack leaders is former defensive end Chris Doleman.

Doleman was selected as the fourth pick of the 1985 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings and went on to spend 15 years in the league playing for the Vikings, Falcons, and 49ers.

His career year came in 1989 when he had 21.0 sacks and five forced fumbles. He also got 15.0 sacks at 37 years old while playing for the 49ers in 1998.

Doleman had 8 Pro Bowls and 2 First Team All-Pro selections in his career, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

4. Julius Peppers

nfl all time sacks records

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  • Career sacks: 159.5
  • NFL teams: Carolina Panthers (2002–2009), Chicago Bears (2010–2013), Green Bay Packers (2014–2016), Carolina Panthers (2017–2018)
  • Accolades: NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 3x First-team All-Pro, 3x Second-team All-Pro, 9x Pro Bowl

Julius Peppers started his NFL career with the Panthers after Carolina selected him as the second pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

The thing that stands out with this defensive end and outside linebacker is that he made the top 4 all-time in sacks without ever averaging more than 14.5 sacks.

In 2002, he played in only 12 games but managed to win the NLF Defensive Rookie of the Year, recording 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and an interception.

In his career, Peppers had three First-team All-Pro selections as well as 9 Pro Bowls. He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame once he becomes eligible.

3. Kevin Greene

nfl most sacks in history

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  • Career sacks: 160.0
  • NFL teams: Los Angeles Rams (1985–1992), Pittsburgh Steelers (1993–1995), Carolina Panthers (1996), San Francisco 49ers (1997), Carolina Panthers (1998–1999)
  • Accolades: 1x NFL Defensive Player of the Year (NEA), 1x UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year, 3x First-team All-Pro, 1x Second-team All-Pro, 5x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL sacks leader

After being selected in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin Greene had a slow start in the NFL getting 13.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the Rams.

However, he more than made up for this in his last 12 seasons averaging more than 10.00 sacks ten times, including getting 15.00 sacks at 36 years old in 1998. In total, he had 160.00 sacks, which is third-most all-time.

Kevin Greene was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

2. Reggie White

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  • Career sacks: 198.0
  • NFL teams: Philadelphia Eagles (1985–1992), Green Bay Packers (1993–1998), Carolina Panthers (2000)
  • Accolades: 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 3x UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year, 8x First-team All-Pro, 5x Second-team All-Pro, 13x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL sacks leader, 1x Super Bowl champion

Reggie White played for the Memphis Showboats in the United States Football League, before joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985. He has the second-most sacks in NFL history with 198.0.

“The Minister of Defense” is one of the most decorated defensive players in the history of American football.

He has two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards that came 11 years apart.

He also made 13 Pro Bowls and 8 First Team All-Pro squads and is the only player in NFL history to record 18+ sacks in three different seasons with his career high coming in 1987 when he had 21 sacks.

White also holds several NFL records including most consecutive seasons with 10+ sacks (9), most seasons leading the league in sacks (2 – tied), and most consecutive seasons leading the league in sacks (2-tied with Mark Gastineau and T. J. Watt)

White was posthumously elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

1. Bruce Smith

nfl sack leaders bruce smith

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  • Career sacks: 200.0
  • NFL teams: Buffalo Bills (1985–1999), Washington Redskins (2000–2003)
  • Accolades: 2× NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8x First-team All-Pro, 2x Second-team All-Pro, 11x Pro Bowl, 2x NFL forced fumbles co-leader

With 200.0, the all-time sack leader in the NFL is Bruce Smith. Smith was selected as the first pick of the 1985 draft by the Buffalo Bills and went on to become one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

During his NFL career, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year has double digits sacks in 13 seasons, including 19.0 sacks in 1990. In the playoffs, he had 14.5 sacks.

The defensive end, who spent most of his career with the Bills, had eight First-team All-Pro selections as well as 11 Pro Bowls in his 19-year career.

He also played in 4 consecutive Super Bowls with Buffalo but lost all of them.

Bruce Smiths was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

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