KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs have aggressively sought to improve their offense this offseason, signing running back Peyton Hillis, tight end Kevin Boss and right tackle Eric Winston.
They missed out, however, on the biggest name in the free agent derby.
It turns out they never really had a chance.
"Clearly he had a plan. He let me know that," Pioli said. "He didn't get into the details. He was up front about what he was doing, some of the visits he wanted to take, and we initially weren't a part of that."
Manning wound up agreeing a $96 million, five-year deal with AFC West rival Denver.
"I've spent a lot of time with him, around him, communicating with him, competing against his teams. He had a plan, he executed it and he never explained to me, nor did I ask," Pioli said.
Pioli refused to get into details about his conversations with Manning and his agent, but he did say that Cassel was aware that discussions had taken place. Pioli also said he's comfortable with the three quarterbacks currently on the roster - he drafted Ricky Stanzi in the fifth round last season - which makes it unlikely that the Chiefs will select another in the April draft.
"I think we have three quarterbacks on our roster who have the potential to be starting quarterbacks in the NFL," Pioli said. "There's always going to be competition."
One of them was the only regular-season defeat for Green Bay. The other was at Denver.
"We made it abundantly clear to Kyle before he left for the offseason - and when the offseason started - that we would like to have him back and have him in this situation," Pioli said.
"I can't speak for Kyle in saying why he chose that situation," Pioli said, "but I know it was one heck of a contract he received. A very, very generous contract, which he earned."
Pioli said he wasn't disappointed in a couple misses during free agency, primarily because he's been able to land a couple of pieces to fill glaring holes.
Winston may be the biggest offseason acquisition. He's expected to help anchor an aging and often ineffective offensive line by taking over for Barry Richardson at right tackle. Winston was so taken by the job Kansas City did in courting him that he almost immediately set about buying a house in town.
Coach Romeo Crennel said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that he's happy with the way free agency has gone, though he conceded, "Lots of times you really don't know what you have until you get them on the field."
Hillis and Boss are coming off down seasons, while Winston has been slowed by injury.
"They were all areas of need for us, particularly on the offensive side," Crennel said.
Still, Crennel is pleased with the roster taking shape.
"If you look up and down it, you can pretty much put a team out there right now. We would know who is going to line up," he said. "That hasn't been the case the last couple of years."