Dallas quarterback Steve Walsh, who has been Troy Aikman's backup since both were drafted last year, was traded to New Orleans today for three draft picks.
The Cowboys' owner, Jerry Jones, said his team will receive the Saints' No. 1 and No. 3 choices in 1991 and a No. 2 pick in 1992. Jones said the No. 2 pick could be upgraded to a No. 1 if Walsh performs well for the Saints.
Walsh, who started five games last season when Aikman was injured, will compete for the starting job in New Orleans with John Fourcade, who has been erratic in the Saints' first three games.
The deal was concluded at NFL headquarters just before a meeting of league owners.
Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson said he and Jones debated until late last night whether to trade Walsh.
But, Johnson said, Aikman "is the best quarterback in the NFL, as far as I'm concerned, and will be the best for the long haul."
"Steve has handled things in a class manner, but he deserved to be a starter on another team," said Johnson, who coached Walsh at the University of Miami when the Hurricanes won the national championship in 1987.
Walsh completed 110 of 219 passes for 1,371 yards last season. He threw five touchdown passes and nine interceptions. This season, Walsh was 4 for 9 for 40 yards.
"We drafted Steve to be a part of the Cowboys," Jones said. "But we will have a good future, because we will have a lot of flexibility in the draft because of the trade."
He said he liked having Walsh and Aikman on his team.
"From a personal standpoint, it was a great feeling. . . . It made me lay my head down better at night."
The trade had been rumored for weeks. Before today's deal, it had been speculated that disgruntled Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert would be part of a three-way deal involving the Raiders.
The deal gives the Cowboys three No. 1 picks next year--their own, the Saints' and the one they obtained from Minnesota in the Herschel Walker trade.