The Baltimore Sun

Former Maryland football standout Madieu Williams became a multimillionaire yesterday.

Williams - formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals and newly of the Minnesota Vikings - was one of the first players to cash in big on NFL free agency this offseason.

Williams, 26, was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, moved to Maryland as a child and attended Towson before transferring to Maryland, where he made the team as a walk-on and earned a scholarship.

As a pro, he has had a nice four-year career in Cincinnati since being drafted in the second round in 2004.

He's a sure tackler and a solid cover safety with nine career interceptions. But he's no Ed Reed, not yet anyway.

Still, this new deal with the Vikings makes him one of the best-paid safeties in the NFL with a reported six-year, $33 million agreement, with about $17 million guaranteed.

And that does put him in Mr. Reed's neighborhood, especially the guaranteed money.

The lesson is that if a player is better than average in an otherwise thin market and the timing is just right, the rewards can be enormous.

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