But while his numbers continued to be in line with the output of other top receivers in the league, Godwin said this week that, as is the case for many players returning from ACL tears, he still didn't feel 100 percent in his first year back.
"It was a night and day difference between last year and this year," Godwin said. "To be out here now, it's a blessing. It was a lot of hard work. Like you said, I took some much-needed rest right after the season. But I'm feeling really good. I feel really good with where I'm at. It's a fresh year, fresh opportunities for myself and all the guys around."
The 27-year-old received a three-year deal worth $60 million from the Bucs heading into the 2022 season, even despite being in the midst of his ACL recovery at the time. And once he returned to the field, Godwin proved to still be a formidable pass-catcher, recording 1,023 receiving yards and 104 catches, ranked 21st and eighth in the league, respectively.
But while in some ways Godwin looked the same, he only averaged 9.8 yards a reception, a career-low, and hauled in just three touchdowns, the worst since his rookie year.
Now with a little more time to recover since the season's end, Godwin said he's started to fully feel like his pre-injury self again in recent weeks.
"I think I'm very close to it. I feel like a lot of my explosion is coming back," he said. "I feel very comfortable with the things that I'm working on. It feels really good to be able to have the opportunity to work on my skill development this offseason, as opposed to just working to rehab an injury."
With this offseason bringing both the retirement of Tom Brady and the hiring of a new offensive coordinator in Dave Canales, the Buccaneers' offense will undoubtedly be a lot different come the fall. Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask and John Wolford are all still in the running to be the starter in Week 1, and considering the trio have a combined zero starts for the Bucs under their belt, having a trusted veteran pass-catcher like Godwin would only be a benefit as the team looks to retain their NFC South crown.
With all of the expected change for Tampa Bay's offense in 2023, the Bucs will be happy to see that Godwin is back, healthy and explosive as ever.