The Washington Redskins, hoping to avoid a potentially divisive quarterback battle in training camp this summer, want to trade veteran quarterback Joe Theismann.

The Redskins have talked to four National Football League teams about a possible deal for Theismann, General Manager Bobby Beathard said this afternoon at the league's winter meetings.

The teams are the Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and Raiders, and an undisclosed West Coast team, Beathard said.

The Redskins recently discussed a trade of Theismann, apparently for a low-round draft choice, with Falcons Coach Dan Henning, a former Redskins assistant.

No deal has been completed. "There's nothing right now," Beathard said.

Both Theismann and the Redskins are interested in a trade. Theismann himself apparently called the Falcons, Rams and Raiders, with the Redskins' knowledge.

The Redskins made contact with those teams after talking to Theismann, Beathard said.

If there is a trade, it likely would occur this spring, but perhaps not until after the team's May minicamp. That would be the first time Theismann, who broke his right leg in November, probably would be able to work out with the team. A deal made before then likely would be conditional on the status of Theismann's leg.

Theismann could not be reached for comment. But Coach Joe Gibbs said today the Redskins are receiving a few calls about Theismann.

"Everybody around the league is calling and talking to us," said Gibbs. "Everybody knows we have an older player who is a great football player and we have a younger player [Jay Schroeder] who looks like he has great talent.

"Nothing actively is being done. People are just calling and talking. Rumors are going to fly . . . . We're waiting to see how Joe is, how he feels. We're waiting on Joe. We'll take our time."

Gibbs said that when Theismann becomes healthy, any number of options are possible, from his winning the Redskins' starting job to a trade.

At the end of the 1985 season, Gibbs said Schroeder, who led the 10-6 Redskins to a 5-1 finish as Theismann's replacement, deserved a chance at the No. 1 job.

Theismann, 36, who already is jogging on a treadmill and working on his passing at Redskin Park, has said he intends to try to win the starting job he has held since 1978.

The prospects of a publicized summertime duel concern some within the Redskins organization, especially those who believe Schroeder, 24, should be the starter.

Some fear that a Schroeder-Theismann contest would resemble the often bitter Mark Moseley-Tony Zendejas kicking duel last season, except that a quarterback battle would be even more publicized.

If Theismann plays this season, he will do so with at least one permanent reminder of the compound fracture of the tibia and fibula he suffered Nov. 18 when he was sacked by the New York Giants at RFK Stadium. His right leg now is about one-eighth to one-quarter inch shorter than his left leg because of the "meshing" of the bones as they healed after the break, head trainer Bubba Tyer said.

"It shouldn't affect his play at all," Tyer said. "He should be able to move around just fine."

But one source in the Redskins organization wondered whether Theismann's mobility would be affected.

Theismann, who recently signed a new two-year unguaranteed contract with a signing bonus, appears to be undaunted.

Tyer said Theismann cleared snow off the Redskin Park turf a few weeks ago to find a spot to throw.

"He's here working out just about every day when he's in town," Tyer said by telephone.

"Joe's leg has mended well. He walks and jogs on the treadmill and works on his upper and lower body strength in the weight room.

"He's very optimistic, and we're really pleased for him."