Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Schroeder has reached agreement in principle on a new contract with the Washington Redskins. Sources indicate that the three-year deal will make him the Redskins' highest-paid player with an estimated salary base of about $800,000 next season that will help him vault among the league's dozen highest-paid quarterbacks.

John Kent Cooke, Redskins executive vice president, would not divulge specifics of the deal yesterday. However, Cooke did say, "They have made an offer to us and we've made an offer to them. Nothing has been finalized yet . . . there will not be a problem. We definitely will have Jay signed by training camp."

Meanwhile, the Redskins yesterday acquired tight end Chris Dressel from the Houston Oilers in exchange for an undisclosed 1988 draft choice. Dressel has started 30 games in his five-year career, although he did not catch a pass last season and played primarily on special teams.

The new contract will provide a quantum leap for Schroeder, who earned a $225,000 salary last season, a figure that ranked among the lowest in the National Football League for starting quarterbacks. In his third season as a professional and his first season as a full-time starter, Schroeder passed for 4,109 yards in 1986. That broke Sonny Jurgensen's club record (3,747 yards) set 20 years earlier.

Schroeder declined comment yesterday, through a Redskins spokesman, and his California-based agent, Marvin Demoff, did not return calls to his office. Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard was unavailable to comment.

The new deal, which is expected to be signed shortly, will move Schroeder past running back George Rogers ($665,000), running back Kelvin Bryant and wide receiver Art Monk ($600,000 each).

There are five quarterbacks in the NFL who reportedly will earn more than $1 million in salary and bonuses in 1987: Buffalo's Jim Kelly, Denver's John Elway, San Francisco's Joe Montana, the Raiders' Marc Wilson and Tampa Bay rookie Vinny Testaverde.

The Washington Times reported Friday that Schroeder is expected to sign the new deal sometime this week.