Since sacks became an official stat in the NFL, it’s been arguably the most-scrutinized and most-celebrated defensive statistic. Who doesn’t love an elite pass rusher? Other than a quarterback, there is nothing a team look for more. How many top picks in the NFL Draft have been pass rushers? While, and we will say this in hushed tones, sacks are a little overrated as a stat, it is always empirically good for a team to take the opposing quarterback down in the backfield. Who leads every team in the NFL in career sacks with the franchise? You will find the answers right here.
We start with a not terribly well-known name, but Nunn does have the Cardinals’ record. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and stayed with the team through 1993 when they were the Phoenix Cardinals. In that time, he picked up 66.5 sacks for the Cardinals while wearing three different numbers. Far from a legend, but a record holder.
You may think of Abraham as a Jet, which is fair, given that’s where he started his career and spent six seasons and racked up a ton of sacks. In his career, Abraham had 133.5 sacks. He spent a few years with the Falcons, and in that time he picked up 68.5 sacks, which is the record for that franchise.
Suggs got overshadowed by some other names on the Ravens’ defense in its heyday (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, et al) but Suggs was the dominant pass rusher from that group. He also picked up a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. In addition to winning two Super Bowls with Baltimore, Suggs had 132.5 sacks with the team.
Smith has the most sacks in NFL history, so it’s probably not surprising that he has more sacks with a single franchise in the league as well. While a handful of his 200 sacks came with Washington, Smith had a whopping 171 sacks with the Bills, winning two Defensive Player of the Year awards.
We can consider the Panthers a bit lucky, as they drafted Peppers second overall between David Carr and Joey Harrington. Those two quarterbacks were busts, while Peppers is arguably the best pass rusher of his era. While he did time with Chicago and Green Bay, the bulk of Peppers’ career came in Carolina, where he had 97 sacks.
At this point, Dent feels a bit overlooked as a pass rusher. Maybe it’s because he was a dominant force in the ‘80s, and sacks have picked up in recent seasons. While Dent’s career actually ran all the way to 1997, he picked up 124.5 sacks with the Chicago Bears, including being part of that ’85 team’s defense.
Dunlap is no longer a Bengal, having forced a trade away from the team. However, his time in Cincinnati actually was quite impressive. Believe it or not, Dunlap had more sacks in a Bengals uniform than anybody before him. The Florida Gators product had 82.5 sacks with Cincy.
This is the father of the Clay Matthews you may be thinking of, the one who you think of as a Packer. There has been three generations of men named Clay Matthews to play in the NFL. Matthews is the oldest player to record a sack, having picked one up a couple months before his 41st birthday. He also had 62 sacks with the Browns.
There were maybe some that were surprised when the Cowboys drafted a player out of Troy 11th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. Needless to say, it paid off. Ware has two records for the storied Cowboys franchise. He had 117 sacks for Dallas, and on top of that he forced 32 fumbles with the star on his helmet.
Ware was teammates with Miller for some time in Denver. They even won a Super Bowl together. By that point, Ware was a little past his prime, but Miller was making his name as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Miller is still playing for Denver, and still adding to his sack total, but as of right now he has 106 sacks for the Broncos, which is already a record.
Spending his entire career with the Lions, and not being Barry Sanders, has maybe made Porcher an underrated player. However, Porcher was a three-time All-Pro in his career, which he spent entirely with Detroit. Porcher retired in 203 with 95.5 career sacks.
Hey, speaking of the youngest Clay Matthews! Like his father, he has a franchise sack record. Yes, Matthews has the record for the Packers. It’s not a gaudy record for a storied franchise, as Green Bay’s sack record is 82.5.
There was a period of time where Watt was the clear best defensive player in the NFL. He won Defensive Player of the Year three times between 2012 and 2015. Injuries have slowed him down, but Watt is still playing for Houston. He currently has a nice, round 100 sacks in his career, but that will assuredly change.
You may have assumed the answer here was Dwight Freeney. Freeney was a great pass rusher, but so was Mathis, who spent his entire career with the Colts. Mathis had 123 sacks with Indianapolis, included a 19.5-sack season. Not too shabby for a fifth-round pick.
You can be forgiven for not knowing Brackens holds this record. The Jaguars have the dubious distinction of having the lowest franchise sack record. Brackens had 55 sacks for Jacksonville. This record should be breakable eventually.
Thomas was an incredible pass rusher who spent his entire career with the Chiefs. He had more sacks than any other player in the ‘90s. Thomas tallied 126.5 sacks with Kansas City, but he could have added more to it sadly. Thomas was still playing when he died after a car accident in February 2000. He was only 33.
Chargers fans surely remember O’Neal, even if he’s possibly underrated overall. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, but never made the first-team All-Pro squad. O’Neal had 105.5 sacks with the bolt on his helmet, before adding a few more with the Rams and Chiefs.
Little got off to a slow start to his career, as he had a half of a sack over his first two seasons. When the Rams turned around as a franchise at the turn of the millennium, so did Little, putting together three double-digit sack seasons in a row. Little played his entire career with the Rams in St. Louis, and he finished with 87.5 sacks.
Townsend played for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1983 through 1993. He then spent one season with the Eagles, where he had only two sacks. Then, Townsend actually returned to the NFL in 1997 with the Oakland Raiders, though he didn’t do much then. All in all, though, Townsend notched 107.5 sacks wearing a Raiders uniform.
Taylor was dominant in college at Akron, but that was Akron. The pass rusher then went on to become a legend for the Miami Dolphins as well, making his almost certainly the best player to be a Zips alum. Taylor made the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s and was the Defensive Player of the Year once. The 6’6’’ defensive end tallied 131 sacks for the Dolphins before making the Hall of Fame.
Randle sticks out on this list because he was not a defensive end. He did his damage as a pass rusher from the defensive tackle position. Only Aaron Donald can match Randle as a pass rusher from the interior. As for the Vikings legend, he had 114 sacks for the franchise.
Tippett was pass rushing as a linebacker back before the 3-4 defenses became common and linebackers were rushing more. He spent his entire career with the Pats and was an elite pass rusher in the ‘80s. Tippett finished his career with 100 sacks, a nice milestone to hit before hanging up the cleats.
Jackson was a member of New Orleans’ Dome Patrol on defense back at a time when the Saints were actually formidable on that side of the ball. The ‘80s Saints defense is an underrated one, and Jackson was the best of the bunch, at least when it came to pass rushing. Jackson had 115 official sacks with the Saints (he started his career before sacks were being officially counted), but he had to leave the team to win a Super Bowl with the Niners.
Someday, Strahan may be more famous as a TV host than as a player. However, he’s one of the all-time best pass rushers ever. Strahan has the record for the most sacks in a season (thanks, Brett Favre!) but he also has the Giants’ career record. He had 141.5 sacks for New York, the second most a player has put up for a single franchise.
Prior to Strahan taking the record with 22.2, Gastineau held the record with 22 sacks in a season. It was one of two years where he led the NFL in sacks. Gastineau’s record tally for the Jets is 74, but he started his career in 1979, three years before the sack become an official stat. By reputation he had 20 sacks in 1981.
White finished his career with 198 sacks, second most in NFL history, but he racked up a lot of those with the Packers and 5.5 with the Panthers. You may have assumed that White would have Green Bay’s record, in fact, but that record belongs to Matthews as you know. The Minister of Defense does have the Eagles’ record, though, with 124.
Pittsburgh has a storied history of defensive players, but a lot of that was in the ‘70s before sacks. Harrison made NFL history when he became the only undrafted player to ever be named Defensive Player of the Year. It wasn’t until his fifth season that he had more than three sacks in a campaign, but Harrison would into his late thirties and notch 80.5 sacks with the Steelers.
The 49ers of the ‘90s had a lot of stars, so Young got a little overshadowed. He only had a couple double-digit sack seasons, but Young was a consistent pass rusher for 208 games as a Niner. Young retired with 89.5 sacks and made four Pro Bowls.
Green might be the most-surprising name on this list. It’s not so much that he holds the Seahawks’ record. It’s that he racked up 97.5 sacks with Seattle, and that’s with sacks not being a stat until his third season. In fact, when Green retired he was third in career sacks. Seriously.
Sapp was a dominant force for the Buccaneers from his rookie season through his final year with the team. While he was controversial at times – even in college – Sapp was dominant on the field. The defensive tackle made seven Pro Bowls as a Buc and finished with 77 sacks with the franchise.
Childress set the record for the Titans franchise when they were the Houston Oilers. Having left the franchise in 1995, the pass rusher never took the field in Tennessee. In addition to once recovering three fumbles in a game, Childress notched 76.5 sacks for the Oilers. No Titan has been able to match him.
Selected by Washington 16th overall in 2011, the 32-year-old Ryan Kerrigan has been a fixture in D.C. for a decade. During the 2020 season, Kerrigan passed Dexter Manley for the most sacks in franchise history. His career total sits at 95.5 as of Week 13.