On Sunday, the Bears announced to ESPN's Adam Schefter they will use the franchise tag on Forte if the two sides do not reach common ground.
A resolution might be difficult because general manager Jerry Angelo does not want to pay Forte "Chris Johnson" money. Angelo could use CJ2K's poor performance this year to back up his argument.
Forte told ESPN that he feels "undervalued" by the Bears if he is franchised and that might hurt the Bears' chances of keeping their star back.
Here are five reasons why Chicago needs to get a deal done now.
In three-plus years with the Chicago Bears, Matt Forte has proven his worth as a running back.
The Tulane product has 3,908 yards on 935 carries (a 4.2-yard average) and 20 rushing scores. He also has 173 first downs.
When Matt Forte gets the ball, he is able to use his strength to break tackles and his speed to gain key yards once he is in the open field.
After rushing for 119 yards in his first three games, Forte has 553 yards on 89 carries, good for 6.2 yards a carry.
Besides rushing, Matt Forte is Chicago's leading receiver.
The Bears use Forte on screens and quick-release short routes, resulting in him getting yards after the catch.
He has 38 catches for 419 yards a touchdown, more yards than Johnny Knox (348) and Devin Hester (308). He also leads all NFL running backs in receiving yards.
Forte has 209 catches for 1,914 yards and eight touchdowns in his career. Seventy-six of those receptions were also for first downs.
Matt Forte makes the Chicago Bears' offense go.
Since quarterback Jay Cutler arrived, Forte has been the one consistent force to help Cutler out.
Forte's 3,435 total offensive yards and 16 touchdowns is more than Johnny Knox (1, 837 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Devin Hester (1,563 yards, eight touchdowns).
In 2011, Forte has 46.1 percent of the Bears' total yards (1,091 out of 2,362) and led the league with 1,091 total yards after seven weeks.
Without Forte, the Bears offense would struggle mightily.
The Chicago Bears need Matt Forte if they don't want to be a horrible team.
With Forte, the Bears are a playoff contender.
Without him, they would be a laughing stock around the league.
Offensively, the wide receivers are not scary, while tight end Greg Olsen was sent packing to the Carolina Panthers.
Marion Barber would not be an adequate replacement and top college running backs like Trent Richardson, LaMichael James and Montee Ball would be selected before the Bears could draft them.
If the Bears do not have a viable running game, teams will just blitz quarterback Jay Cutler more and hurt his passing effectiveness.
If the Bears do not sign Matt Forte long term and he leaves, it will send a bad message to current Bears and free agents alike.
Forte has produced on the field while being a good locker room presence. He is keeping a severely average team in the NFC playoff hunt.
Not rewarding Forte will let current Bears and free agents know Chicago does not take care of its top players.
That's part of the reason why productive tight end Greg Olsen is in Carolina, because general manager Jerry Angelo did not want to pay him after his rookie deal expired.
That's why retired center Olin Kreutz signed for less money with the New Orleans Saints ($2 million) than the Bears ($4 million offer) because Chicago gave him an hour take-it-or-leave it offer with a short window for a decision.
Angelo cannot afford to give the Chicago Bears organization a huge black eye by mistreating Forte.
The negative fallout from Forte leaving would make top free agents not want to sign and top Bears not wanting to re-sign.