DeMarcus Ware: Dallas Cowboys OLB Will Retire as the NFL Career Sack Leader

Jonathan BargerContributor ISeptember 10, 2012

Sept 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) pauses before being sacked by Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

At the New York Giants' billion-dollar playpen for the NFL season opener, DeMarcus Ware put on a show, racking up two sacks on Eli Manning.

Ware's first sack put him in elite company, as he surpassed the century mark for career sacks. By the end of the game, Ware had picked another sack and currently stands at 101.5 sacks for his career. Even with the Giants sliding protection toward Ware by having the tight end motion to whichever side of the field Ware was on, he still managed to break loose and get to the QB.

Ware is the second-fastest player to reach the 100-career-sack mark, behind only the late Reggie White. When asked about this career milestone, Ware said it was a "great honor" to be in the company of Reggie White.

With Ware turning 31 this year, he will be entering his eighth season in the NFL. During his first seven seasons, Ware amassed 99.5 sacks. The current career sack leader, Bruce Smith, only had 78 sacks through his first seven season, and Reggie White had a monstrous 110 sacks through his first seven seasons. 

Below is a chart showing the sacks (by year) for retired players Bruce Smith and Reggie White, along with active players who are leading in career sacks (John Abraham, Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, DeMarcus Ware).

                                                         Player Sacks by Year

Smith White Abraham Allen Freeney Ware
Year Sacks Year Sacks Year Sacks Year Sacks Year Sacks Year Sacks
R 6.5 R 13 R 4.5 R 9 R 13 R 8
2 15 2 18 2 13 2 11 2 11 2 11.5
3 12 3 21 3 10 3 7.5 3 16 3 14
4 11 4 18 4 6 4 15.5 4 11 4 20
5 13 5 11 5 9.5 5 14.5 5 5.5 5 11
6 19 6 14 6 10.5 6 14.5 6 3.5 6 15.5
7 1.5 7 15 7 4 7 11 7 10.5 7 19.5
8 14 8 14 8 10 8 22 8 13.5

9 14 9 13 9 16.5

9 10

10 10 10 8 10 5.5

10 8.5

11 10.5 11 12 11 13

12 13.5 12 8.5 12 9.5

13 14 13 11

14 10 14 16

15 7 15 5.5

16 10

17 5

18 9

19 5

Total 200.0 Total 198.0 Total 112.0 Total 105.0 Total 102.5 Total 99.5
Avg 10.5 Avg 13.2 Avg 9.33 Avg 13.1 Avg 10.3 Avg 14.2

As you can see by the chart, DeMarcus Ware is a master at sacking the QB (with due respect to everyone else on this list), and has himself off to an extremely quick start. Over his career, he averages 14 sacks per season. 

The final career numbers can be deceiving for the younger players, as they haven't aged and declined with the number of sacks per season. Through the first seven seasons, the only player on this list that had a higher average of sacks per season is Reggie White with 15.7 sacks per season.

DeMarcus Ware is in his prime, and with his new friends behind him in the secondary, Ware will have that extra split second to get to the QB for the next five seasons (including this season). Although Ware is not a youthful rookie, he is still relatively young at the ripe age of 31 and has four to five years of prime left before we start to see a decline.

It is conceivable, with the improved Dallas secondary and scheme of Rob Ryan, that Ware will continue to average more than 14 sacks per year and break both Reggie White's and Bruce Smith's records before he retires. 

Last year, with Ryan's amoeba scheme, we saw Ware line up all over the field, including right over the center and guards.  Although in the run game Ware is mismatched against guards and centers, in pass protection, guards and centers do not have the quickness and are not accustomed to the burst and agility that Ware brings.

This season, Ware will be remarkably close to breaking Michael Strahan's single-season sack record (22.5 sacks), and he will continue to be extremely close in each season for the next five years.  With a player that has a history of good health, Ware has taken extremely good care of his body, and he will not miss much time.

The only injury in recent memory is the neck injury that Ware suffered against the San Diego Chargers in 2009.  The injury itself was not memorable, but the following game against the unbeaten (and eventual Super Bowl champs) Saints in the Superdome was—Ware wreaked havoc and inspired his defense to hold the league's best offense to fewer points than Romo and company put up.

Ware will continue to be a threat to opposing QBs for the next seven-plus years, and he continues to carve his bust with each sack that brings him closer to 200.