Bears to franchise Matt Forte?

The Chicago Bears will use their franchise tag on running back Matt Forte barring a contract breakthrough between now and February, sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

If the Bears apply the franchise tag on Forte, it means he would be paid the average of the top five 2011 running back salaries for the 2012 season.

But making it worse for Forte, even with the megadeals handed out to Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Tennessee's Chris Johnson, the franchise running back number is projected to drop this coming offseason from last season's $9.45 million to $7.71 million.

After failing to reach an agreement during the preseason, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said the sides agreed to table the talks until after the season. ESPNChicago.com has reported the Bears' best offer to Forte maxed out at between $13 million to $14 million in guarantees.

Forte said last week the franchise tag would make him feel undervalued.

"That's not something I'm looking forward to," Forte said Friday on "Rome is Burning" on ESPN. "I don't want a one-year deal. I want a long-term extension. I think if they use the franchise tag that's kind of a cheap way to go out. That's not what I'm looking forward to. I want a long-term extension. I've been drafted by Chicago. I want to stay there so it's not something I'm looking forward to."

Forte has bolstered his case for an extension with a monster season. He leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,091) and got to 1,000 yards from scrimmage in fewer games than anyone since 2004 (Tiki Barber and Priest Holmes also did it in seven games).

"Everybody who is doing anything no matter what you're doing if you're working and doing an exceptional job you want your boss to kind of notice that and not a pat on the back but compensate you for what you're doing," Forte said. "That's in anything you're doing. It kind of makes you feel undervalued."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was used in this report.