Though the Seahawks don’t have a defensive end who played more than one season with the team in the top-30 all-time for sacks (sorry, Seahawks legend Dwight Freeney), the organization has had a knack for developing quality all-around edge defenders during its history.
In total, five different Seahawk defensive ends have earned a Pro Bowl nod, with Michael Bennett being the most recent back in 2017. On 19 different occasions, a Seattle edge defender has racked up at least 10.0 sacks, with four players hitting double digits multiple times.
Which pass rushers and five-technique anchors rank among the franchise’s best? Here’s my final ranking for the top five defensive ends to ever suit up for the Seahawks.
5. Chris Clemons
Seahawks Tenure: 2010-2013
Career Stats: 164 tackles, 38.0 sacks, 33 tackles for loss
Undrafted out of Georgia, Clemons bounced around with three teams during his first five NFL seasons and only posted more than 4.0 sacks one time during that span. But he found his groove after signing with the Seahawks in 2010, quickly emerging as the team’s best pass rusher.
During each of his first three seasons in Seattle, Clemons recorded at least 11.0 sacks, becoming only the third Seahawk all-time to reach that mark three or more times. Despite the impressive production, he didn’t make a single Pro Bowl, but finished his tenure in Seattle with 38.0 total sacks and won a Super Bowl title in 2013.
4. Jeff Bryant
Seahawks Tenure: 1982-1993
Career Stats: 63.0 sacks, 11 fumble recoveries, 1 interception
Selected in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft, Bryant started his career finding great success as a pass rusher, posting a career-high 14.5 sacks in 1984 as the Seahawks finished with 12 regular season wins. Sandwiched around that breakout season, he had two seasons with at least 8.0 sacks to form a dynamic pass rushing duo with Jacob Green.
Bryant cooled off substantially following his fourth year in the league, only reaching 5.0 sacks one time despite being a full-time starter all the way through the 1993 season. Still, at 276 pounds, he remained stout on the edge defending the run and retired with 63.0 career sacks and 11 fumble recoveries.
3. Michael Sinclair
Seahawks Tenure: 1991-2001
Career Stats: 352 tackles, 73.5 sacks, 25 forced fumbles
Entering the draft as a little-known prospect out of East New Mexico, Sinclair joined the Seahawks as a sixth-round pick in 1991 and didn’t see many snaps during his first four years in the league. But despite only starting four games during that stretch, he flashed his potential with 8.0 sacks in 1993 and finally became a full-time starter two years later.
The long wait proved to be well worth it, as Sinclair made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1996 to 1998, posting at least 12.0 sacks in each of those seasons. His best year came in 1998, as he led the NFL with 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. His production started to taper off after that point, as he only recorded 12.5 combined sacks over the next three years, but he remains second on the franchise’s all-time list with 73.5 sacks.
2. Michael Bennett
Seahawks Tenure: 2013-2017
Career Stats: 204 tackles, 39.0 sacks, 69 tackles for loss
While lacking the gaudy pass rushing numbers of other players on this list, Bennett excelled as a versatile defensive linemen who wreaked havoc playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. After developing into a reliable starter during his first four NFL seasons in Tampa Bay, he returned to Seattle on a one-year deal in 2013 and posted 8.5 sacks to help Seattle win its first Super Bowl title.
Over the next four seasons, Bennett amassed 173 combined tackles, 30.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles, earning Pro Bowl recognition three times. His finest season came in 2015, as he hit double-digit sacks for the first and only time of his career to this point and posted a career-best 52 tackles. Traded away to Philadelphia prior to the 2018 season, he wrapped up his career in Seattle ranked first in franchise history in tackles for loss (69) and seventh in sacks (39.0).
1. Jacob Green
Seahawks Tenure: 1980-1991
Career Stats: 97.5 sacks, 17 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions
One of the most underappreciated players in NFL history, Green often took a backseat on some of Seattle’s playoff teams in the 1980s with receiver Steve Largent and safety Kenny Easley creating most of the headlines. But few players were as consistently productive as the former Texas A&M star, who registered 12.0 or more sacks five different times and narrowly missed double-digit sacks on two other occasions during 12 seasons with the Seahawks.
Between 1983 and 1986, the 255-pound Green averaged over 13.5 sacks per season, recovered nine fumbles, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He also performed well in the playoffs, recording 3.5 sacks in seven postseason games. Amazingly, he only earned Pro Bowl accolades twice during the 1986 and 1987 seasons, but he did earn All-Pro distinction twice and wrapped up his career ranked third in NFL history with 97.5 sacks. He became the sixth member of Seattle’s Ring of Honor in 1995.