Rob’s Complete Guide to Retro Bowl: Changing Teams (2023)

Changing your team in Retro Bowl is a straightforward proposition. At the end of each season, before even the re-signing period, you will be given the option to change to a different team, with your performance this past season determining how many other teams want to bring you aboard. The menus look like this; this is roughly the amount of teams you’ll have to choose from after a winning season:

Rob’s Complete Guide to Retro Bowl: Changing Teams (1)
Rob’s Complete Guide to Retro Bowl: Changing Teams (2)

As you can see, in direct contrast to the start of your career, you now have a wide variety of teams to choose from, including both re-building teams and teams that are ready to contend. Unfortunately, I am here today to tell you that the ratings shown for these teams are all lies. When you change teams in Retro Bowl, you can reasonably expect that the team you switch to will be in just as bad of shape as the team you started your career with, regardless of that team’s displayed ratings.

This final installment of the Complete Guide to Retro Bowl will cover how to change teams and turn them around immediately, so that you are spared the hassle of slowly building a contender. Please note that this is the most radically subjective portion of the guide. I am not dictating the one true way to switch teams in Retro Bowl, rather, I’m giving advice on how to switch teams my way. I tend to stay with the same team for the better part of decade, if not longer. This ensures that when I do switch teams, I have piles and piles of credits. Plenty of great Retro Bowl players switch teams much more frequently, and if that sounds more fun to you, go for it!

Because any team you switch to must be rebuilt, and because the first three parts of this guide (excluding the intro) covered how to rebuild a team, I am also going to keep this part of the guide brief. I’m not going to give a round-by-round draft guide, or tell you what facilities to prioritize, or re-explain anything else from earlier in the guide. I am assuming you have read my advice on those topics already.

Planning Ahead

When you started your career in Retro Bowl, rebuilding was slow. You didn’t have any credits, so you were stuck building entirely through the draft, you were stuck retaining default coaching staff (meaning you missed out on coordinators with potentially useful Traits), and you slowly and painfully maxed out your facilities over the course of multiple seasons.

When you change teams, you’ll still have to rebuild, but this rebuild will go a lot quicker with just a little bit of advance planning. In order to make this turnaround quick and easy, I recommend that you save up at least 100 coaching credits before changing teams, if not more. I often wait until I have 130-150 credits before making a change. Even if you’ve established an unstoppable juggernaut that wins the Championship every year, this is still a lot! Winning coaches must still spend their credits. They must improve facilities in decline and extend coordinators and sign big-ticket free agents at positions of need.

But, if you’re going to be switching teams at season’s end, pumping credits into your current team can be a real waste. Those are credits you could have put towards rebuilding your next destination! Avoiding this waste will go a long way towards making a team change smoother, but it requires good planning. If you’re thinking about changing teams, decide a full season in advance whether or not this will be your last season with your current team.

Once you’ve decided that the next season with your team will be your last, it’s time to start saving credits. Do not extend your coordinators; they will be dismissed when you leave your current team, and you can’t take them with you. If you change your mind and decide to stay for another year, you can always extend them at any point through the post-season. Similarly, don’t immediately fix declining facilities. Here, I am assuming you’ve been keeping all three facilities at or near maxed out. A facility can decline to 9/10 or even 8/10 without appreciably hindering your team; if a facility declines below this point, consider improving it anyway, even if you’re certain you’re leaving.

Free Agency is a bit more complicated. You still need to win whenever possible in your final year; you’ll need the credits when you change teams, and finishing strong will give you more teams to choose from when switching. This is most important if you intend to jump to your Favorite Team (or any other specific team, for that matter). If you’re stuck with a glaring hole in your roster going into your final season, it can still be worth springing for a Free Agent. That said, only sign Free Agents at positions of need. You don’t really need a WR2 or a TE or a third defensive superstar. They’re great to have, but you can win without them. In addition, avoid spending on condition or morale boosts. These boosts are always a luxury; as long as you’re still winning and your Rehab Facilities are in good shape, you shouldn’t need to spend credits on them.

Finally, don’t increase the salary cap in your last year! I shouldn’t have to say this, but my honor demands it. It is foolish to spend 100 credits that could have gone to upgrades, coaches, and players that will help rebuild your new team, quickly.

Making the Change

Once you’ve changed teams, it’s time to get to work. Your goals for this rebuild are:

  • First Year: Obtain a Winning Record and Playoff Berth, and Win a Playoff Game
  • Second Year: Contend for a Retro Bowl Championship

This is ambitious, but doable. First, check the Front Office. My 100 credits saved rule is far from arbitrary, since this is the minimum amount you’ll need in order to max out your facilities in the first year. The facilities are all in terrible condition; improve each facility by one point right now, before doing anything else. You can only improve each facility by one point each week, so improving each facility once a week every week is going to be your priority from now until your new team’s facilities or maxed out, or you’ve run out of credits. If you have significantly more than 100 credits saved up, you may be tempted to go shopping for coordinators, either in search of a useful trait or so that you don’t have to start from scratch with a fresh, 0.5-rated one. Hold off for now, there are other, better ways to improve the team you have yet to explore.

Next, it’s time to check the Roster. Since this is already the off-season, checking the Roster will take you straight to the re-signings. Let any players with expired contracts walk, unless they are have a potential of 4.5 or higher. Once you’ve taken care of the expiring contracts, it’s time to look at who is left. Trade everyone away for their picks now, unless they have a potential of 4.5 or higher. As with your starting team, there will be few such players, if any. (I’ve seen some evidence that switching to teams with higher ratings on the team changing screen may increase the odds of that team having a player or two worth keeping, but I cannot confirm or deny whether this is true.)

After this, it’s time to draft. Just like your very first draft, you should have a high amount of late-round picks to fill your team out, but your roster will still be incomplete afterwards. However, unlike your first draft, you can immediately patch one (or more) of these holes with a free agent. Unless you had the good fortune of finding your QB of the Future in the draft, you might want to sign a free agent QB now. Only sign a QB with potential of 4.5 or more; yes, your goal is to rebuild quickly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll contend in your first year. Even with credits to burn, it can be very tough to build a 13+ win team from scratch in one off-season. If you can’t find your QB in the draft or free agency, hold off for now and try again next off-season (and remember, a franchise QB might get dropped in your lap in a trade!). Remember, never sign any free agents before the draft!

Even you already have your QB, your roster still probably has a glaring hole or two after the draft. Feel free to grab a Free Agent in order to plug it. I recommend only signing one free agent now; again, you don’t need to complete your rebuild this offseason. Signing two or more free agents will cost credits that could go towards facilities, and could potentially put in you up against the salary cap before your roster rebuild is complete!

After you’ve completed the draft and grabbed a free agent, it’s time to circle back to your coaching staff. If you still have more than 100 credits at this point, you can hire an outside coordinator, if you wish. However, outside coordinators are still a luxury. Even when starting fresh with a new team, I recommend retaining your given staff. Just because you have extra credits this time around, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to throw extra credits at all of your current problems! Retaining your new coaches will save lots of credits over time, which will speed up facility improvements and may even leave you with enough credits to get another big free agent in Year 2, and thus put your team over the top. Also, this is a reminder that, in my humble but considered opinion, the only traits worth pursuing are Scout and Talent Spotter; both are useful, but you can still win without either.

All of that said, your main challenge in your first year will be making the playoffs. Your rebuild will not be complete, but since you’re changing teams after years of success elsewhere, your Dynamic Difficulty rating will still be at or near Dynamic 16. It’s tough to win on Dynamic 16 with a team that’s incomplete! While I rarely win fewer than 14 games a season with a complete team, I often win only 10 or 11 games in my first year after switching. Do your best; you should still be able to claw out a Wild Card berth.

For your second season, you should be back in contention. I have very little new wisdom to impart at this point, except that if you still don’t have a franchise QB after the draft, make sure to get one in free agency! Even if you end up settling for a 4.0 QB, you need to start contending now. Grab the best QB you can, and keep you eyes open in upcoming drafts for a better one. Also, if you were unable to max out your facilities in the first season, make sure you’re in good position to do so in the second.

That’s all the Retro Bowl advice I have that’s fit to print! That said, I’m always happy to talk shop about the game. If you have any questions or want my advice or even want me to break down a specific play, hit me up on Twitter @RobMackie10 or email me at

Remember, always win!

Links to Rob’s Complete Guide to Retro Bowl


The Front Office

Roster Basics and Player Evaluation

Drafting and Managing Players

Winning Football Games

Maintaining a Winning Team

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