Now the seven-time champion says he can spend the rest of this offseason and training camp focusing on improving instead of just rehabbing.
"It was an injury I dealt with really since last April, May," Brady said, according to NFL.com's Grant Gordon. "I knew I'd have to do something at the end of the year, and happy I did it.
"... I feel I'll be able to do some different things this year than I was able to do last year."
Brady underwent the procedure shortly after the Bucs beat the Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl LV in February. While it was called a minor cleanup at the time, the signal-caller described the injury as "pretty serious" in May.
The 43-year-old has spent most of the club's offseason program recovering, but Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Brady was able to practice at "full speed" during mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
"The doctors sent (Brady)" Arians said. "They both said he was good to go, and we'll still be careful of what we're doing with him. But trying to stop him from playing is pretty tough."
Despite his health limitations, Brady was able to throw 40 touchdown passes during his first season with the Bucs.
Though he declined to go into detail about his knee ailment, the veteran is confident he'll be able to improve on last year's performance now that the injury isn't limiting him.
"I feel really good. Every player deals with different things. I never like to talk about injuries," Brady said. "I'm just a little bit old school in that way in that you deal with them and then you just make the most of them.
"The good part is I'll be able to commit a lot of time to other parts. I'm sure I'll be faced with different adversities this year, but I had to spend a lot of time tending to that particular injury, which happens when you have something that you ultimately need to have surgery on to get fixed."