The Washington Redskins have traded tackle Shar Pourdanesh to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional draft pick, according to sources close to the deal.

Details of the trade were still being worked out yesterday, when the team left for its preseason opener tonight against the New England Patriots. But the deal is believed to be in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in 2000, assuming Pourdanesh makes the Steelers' final roster, sources said.

In three seasons with the Redskins, Pourdanesh played in 48 games and started 36, alternating between right and left tackle.

Last season he started 14 games at right tackle and one at left tackle. But for much of the year he was slowed by a double hernia, which initially was thought to be a groin strain.

Pourdanesh (6 feet 6, 312 pounds) had surgery in the offseason to repair the hernia and was hopeful of earning a spot at left tackle. But after competing with Joe Patton and veteran Andy Heck for the starting job over the first few days of training camp, he was moved to right tackle.

In the two weeks of practice that followed, Pourdanesh's position on the depth chart dropped. This week, he was vying with Jamie Brown (6-8, 318) for the right to back up rookie starter Jon Jansen, the team's second-round draft pick from Michigan. Brown was getting the bulk of the work with the second team, and Pourdanesh was working largely with the third string.

Pourdanesh was clearly unhappy about the move back to right tackle, saying that his technique had been hampered by the shift from one position to the other. According to his agent George Mavrikes, Pourdanesh had asked for his release from the team.

"We wanted Shar traded or released," Mavrikes said last night, "because he wasn't getting a fair shot."

Team officials had considered releasing Pourdanesh when Pittsburgh expressed interest, sources said.

Redskins Note: The Redskins have reached a sponsorship agreement with US Airways, according to sources. Under the agreement, the airline becomes the Redskins' official airline, and the team will use US Airways exclusively for its travel.