Victor Cruz is eventually going to sign a contract and Hakeem Nicks will soon show up to work, no matter how worrisome those situations may seem. They may have been the dark clouds over the Giants the last few weeks, but they’re really nothing but minor distractions. They’re especially minor when compared to the news that broke Tuesday morning about Jason Pierre-Paul.

Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ 24-year-old pass rushing sensation, underwent surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a herniated disc in his back — surgery that could mean he’ll miss the start of the regular season. It was a surprise revelation, even for a player with chronic lower back issues. He tried to manage it “with treatment and core strengthening exercises” just like he always has, according to Giants VP of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes, but this time that didn’t work.

So after an examination by team doctors on Monday, he was shipped off to Marina Del Rey, Calif., for a surgery that will keep him out of training camp, at the very least. The Giants issued a hopeful declaration that he would need only three months to recover, but Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed the surgery, said that an actual return date was a little more vague and “will depend on his response to the rehabilitation program.”

Or to put it another way, using the scariest words of the offseason so far: There’s no way to know for sure.

Medical science may be wonderful and advanced, but back surgery is still not a good thing for a 24-year-old athlete, even if Pierre-Paul made it sound like it was. He said, “My back has been bothering me for a while, and even last season I played through some back issues.” Then he expressed hope that the surgery would “get me fully healthy and there should be no more pain.”

That’s a hope, though, not a guarantee. Who knows what setbacks there’ll be along the way? Who knows how long it’ll take to get ready once he gets back on a field?

And when he does, who’ll know if he’ll even be the same player — this year or ever again? The what-ifs are frightening because the Giants were desperately counting on Pierre-Paul to return to form in 2013 to help rescue their declining pass rush and a defense that ranked 31st in 2012. A big part of last year’s defensive misery was Pierre-Paul’s decline from 16½ sacks during his monster 2011 season to just 6½ last year – a drop Tom Coughlin later indicated may have been a result of Pierre-Paul being a little overweight.